Winter Solstice Roundup

–The website Arab News has an article by James Drummond about how Armenians have succeeded as businessmen in many Arab countries. Here is one example:

Armenians were famous builders. Indeed, Sinan Pasha, the great architect of the Ottoman Empire, was reportedly of Armenian heritage. Many in the diaspora carved out niches as middle-men, translators, bankers and merchants. One such character, a Mr. Youkoumian, is an anti-hero of Evelyn Waugh’s comic novel “Black Mischief,” set in a fictionalized Ethiopia in the 1930s.

It is not quite on point, as Ethiopia hardly qualifies as an “Arab Country”, but it is bordered on several sides by them.

–Radio presenter and satirist Garrison Keillor names on his website a Waugh short story as his Christmas selection:

It’s Christmas weekand we’re celebrating with Christmas stories. There’s a darkly comic story by British authorEvelyn Waugh, (books by this author) written in 1934, about a reclusive aristocratic octogenarian Irish spinster who decides to give a huge elaborate festive bash as a last big hurrah. Waugh’s “Bella Fleace Gave a Party” is set in the north of Ireland, in the countryside outside a town called Ballingar.

After retelling the story is some detail (and without a spoiler alert), Keillor concludes:

Evelyn Waugh’s “Bella Fleace Gave a Party” can be found in The Complete Stories of Evelyn Waugh (1998). It can also be found in a collection entitled Christmas Stories (2007), edited by Diana Secker Tesdell, part of the Everyman’s Pocket Classics series.

–A blogger who is reading through and reviewing in order Time Magazine’s selection of the Top 100 books since 1923. Here’s an excerpt in the entry for A Handful of Dust:

Evelyn Waugh writes well, and I can understand why this book is on the top 100 list. Like Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time, this is set in a time period and world that I don’t find greatly appealing and even though both works are dealing with the unraveling of that world they are not things I would seek out to read. With A Handful of Dust, I identified strongly with Tony Last and for personal reasons I really disliked Brenda’s shallow and careless actions which destroyed not only her marriage but the entire world of her husband. […]  Even though I may not have chosen to live in Tony Last’s world, I could empathize with the trauma he must have endured as it quickly is taken away from him and he finds himself in unfamiliar territory still attempting to be the person he once was. All reviews of any work of fiction are subjective, and although the work unearthed some painful memories for me, and it is not a genre or a time period that I find compelling it is well written and I can understand why many people enjoy its mocking of the collapse of this stilted and formal world. These brief reflections are, for me, a way of consolidating my thoughts after engaging with each work.

–The Vancouver Sun reviews a book by Canadian author John MacLachlan Gray which makes several allusions to a Waugh novel, including its title Vile Spirits:

While Gray’s deft use of mystery novel tropes reflects his debt to masters of the genre like Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, his chosen title and section epigraphs all nod to another and more unlikely influence, that of dyspeptic British satirist Evelyn Waugh, whose early novels, in particular Vile Bodies, satirize the “bright young things” of the Roaring Twenties.

–A contributor to McGill University’s McGillReporter includes this item in a recommended reading column:

“I was recently recommended ScoopDecline and Fall, and Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh. The first two books are supposed to be very dry humour, while the second is more of a drama,” writes Sean. Fun fact: Mr. Waugh had married a woman named Evelyn. Friends used to call them ‘He-Evelyn’ and ‘She-Evelyn.’

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