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What excellent company you are!

I have been devoted to your podcast for over a year; it could be improved only by being more frequent. Every book I have ordered from you has been a delight; nothing disappoints. I receive your emails with pleasure, and that’s saying a lot. Slightly Foxed is a source of content . . . ’
K. Nichols, Washington, USA

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Divine Spark

Divine Spark

I first came across Spark when working in a little second-hand bookshop off the Charing Cross Road. A battered tome of her selected works was on sale in the outside pile, desolately stationed there to be picked over by tourists and dampened by rain. Not having much to do (the shop closed a month later, not necessarily because I’d worked there) I started reading one afternoon, and was hooked. For while Muriel Spark makes you laugh out loud, she also makes you think – she must, I feel, have been a formidable dinner-party companion, quietly sitting there with her razor-sharp tongue . . .
SF magazine subscribers only
Brush with the Law

Brush with the Law

Encountering Roald Dahl in covetable, tactile Puffin paperbacks as a child in the 1970s, I suspect I was too wrapped up in the tales themselves to give their actual titles much consideration. Curious as I was – and I was a curious child in every sense of the word – I took it on trust that a book called The Magic Finger would simply feature a digit with special powers. And indeed it did. Ditto with oversized fruit and someone called James in James and the Giant Peach. And I recall being mildly disappointed that the factory in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was not fashioned solely from chocolate. Now that literalism strikes me as peculiarly wonderful. And, in retrospect, it seems completely bound up in my enjoyment as a young boy of what was far and away my favourite Dahl title: Fantastic Mr Fox – a book that continues to colonize my consciousness, if in rather bastardized form.
SF magazine subscribers only
Plain Jane? Plain Wrong

Plain Jane? Plain Wrong

There is nothing ‘common-place’ about Pride and Prejudice. It has a tightly woven, seductively intricate plot, which unfolds so delicately that the reader falls blindly into the traps of imperception set by the author, alongside that most perfect of imperfect heroines, Elizabeth Bennet. It has dialogue which sparkles and sings in the most extraordinary way, so that characters come alive in only a few words. It has a hero and heroine who fence and fight and fall in love . . .
SF magazine subscribers only
Too Much Clevverness

Too Much Clevverness

Hoban started writing Riddley Walker in 1974 and finished it five years later. It is a masterpiece. Those who know it love it, and whole websites are devoted to it, with chapter-by-chapter annotations deciphering the language, and online chat rooms discussing its themes. In 2005 a Russell Hoban Some-Poasyum (a symposium in Riddleyspeak) was held in London, with readings, quizzes and a pilgrimage to Kent to visit locations in the novel. Every 4 February, Russell Hoban’s birthday, die-hard fans leave typed quotations from his novels in random places for strangers to find.
SF magazine subscribers only
Sound Nonsense

Sound Nonsense

The words rolled out, natural and clear, and I listened with new ears and understanding. Enlightenment had finally come. Passages spoken aloud in an Irish accent, by someone who loved the prose enough to commit long passages to memory, released the book’s power. Its beauty had been unlocked not by a literary intellectual, but by a half-tight man in a cheap suit standing at the bar of a Dublin pub. Finnegans Wake was revealed as a work of sound rather than sense, a form of high falutin, Gaelic, literary rap. Ireland talking in her sleep. It was as if Brian had taken me by the elbow, and guided me into this particular tavern to receive a final, Celtic benediction.
SF magazine subscribers only
20th May 2009

‘If the rules of ‘Desert Island Discs’ allow a periodical instead of a book . . .’

‘I'm not sure if the rules of 'Desert Island Discs' allow a periodical instead of a book; but if they do – and no doubt the people at Hoxton Square could arrange delivery by homing albatross – I'd go for a subscription to Slightly Foxed and ration myself, very strictly, to an article a week . . . And I know I'd still read it in one go the day it arrived.’
- Tim Mackintosh-Smith
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