"adrian mole"

RIP, Sue Townsend

Sue Townsend has died. Ms Townsend wrote (among other things) the marvellous Adrian Mole books that have been a touchstone for me since I was 14 years old (I'm the same age as Adrian Mole, and grew up with him through Townsend's fictionalised diaries). Townsend has been legally blind due to complications from diabetes for some time, and had been writing her books by dictation. The BBC says that she died at home "after a short illness." I am so sad about this. She was one of the great comic writers, with all that implies: wisdom, wit, compassion and ruthless honesty. She was 68. Read the rest

Sleep as science fiction

In the current issue of Time Out London, Sue Townsend (one of my favourite authors, creator of the marvelous Adrian Mole books) describes her view of sleep: "I've only just learned to like being in bed. I used to think it was so strange to go to a specified room, lie down and go into a state of unconsciousness. It sounds like science fiction to me." Read the rest

Sue Townsend talks Adrian Mole with the Guardian book-club

Sue Townsend is featured in this week's Guardian book club podcast, discussing her first novel, the classic Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4, one of my favorite books of all time (I'm practically the same age as Adrian, and have read every one of the books as they came out). Townsend is as engaging and funny as you'd expect, and is dead interesting on the subject of literature and the secret history of the Mole books.
She explains that much of Adrian's character is based on her own experience as a "secret" writer for years, put off from going public with her work by a disapproving first husband. Her second husband proved much more encouraging, and after a creative writing playwriting course at a Leicester theatre, Adrian was born after an actor asked for an audition piece.

What followed, she explains, is in part "meant for mothers of teenage boys to give them an inkling of what goes on" in their very private minds. Like Adrian's, she says, they are full of dreams - not least, in his case, to become "an intellectual" - but they are also very judgmental of the adults around them.

Sue Townsend meets the Guardian book club

MP3 Link  Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years -- Sue Townsend's comic novels of ... New Adrian Mole diary is dark, hopeless and hilarious - Boing Boing Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction - Boing Boing Adrian Mole: the text-adventure game - Boing Boing Read the rest

Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years -- Sue Townsend's comic novels of recent history turn dark and sweet

I've written before here about the impact that Sue Townsend's comic Adrian Mole novels have had on my life since I was a young teenager, so it'll come as no surprise to learn that I was completely delighted by the latest volume, Adrian Mole: the Prostrate Years, which is sweeter, darker, more sentimental and more grim than the earlier installments.

For the uninitiated, the Adrian Mole books chronicle the life of a young man born near Leicester, whose dysfunctional family, intellectual impulses, gormless bumbling and terrible poetry make for a meaty, multi-volume series that serves as a wicked history of Britain and the world since the 1980s.

In the latest volume, Adrian is nearly 40, and is increasingly estranged from his (latest) wife, the mysterious and sexy Daisy, who seduced Adrian in Weapons of Mass Destruction. Their five year old is a High-School Musical-crazed monster, their finances are in tatters, and they're living with Adrian's elderly parents in their converted pigsty. Adrian's mother is writing a fictionalized agony memoir called A Girl Called Shit, and the lovely bookstore Adrian works at is going bust. And there's something wrong with Adrian's prostate, a problem compounded by all the friends and acquaintances who insist on calling it a "prostrate."

And yet, there's plenty that's sweet here. Adrian is figuring out fatherhood. His childhood flame, Pandora Braithwaite (now an MP) is back in his life. His half-brother Brett is back, his career as a hedge-fund manager in ruins. His son, Glenn, on deployment in Afghanistan, is shaping up to be a critically minded sharp young man. Read the rest

New Adrian Mole diary is dark, hopeless and hilarious

This weekend, I discovered to my absolute delight that Sue Townsend had published another volume in the Adrian Mole diaries, a series I have followed since I was a teenager. The new book, The Lost Diaries of Adrian Mole, 1999-2001, was published in hardcover in 2008, but I missed it until now -- it's just been released in paperback.

The Adrian Mole diaries start with The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 (published when I was about 13 3/4, explaining, in part why I've found these books so compelling over the years) and they chronicle the improbable adventures of Adrian Mole, a lower-middle-class would-be intellectual from the English lowlands. Adrian's life is plagued by parental insanity, poor romantic relationships, ill-advised pregnancies, angry pensioners whom Adrian inevitably ends up caring for, doctors frustrated by his hypochondria, and a streak of hilarious and painful self-sabotage as wide as Basil Fawlty's.

In The Lost Diaries, we get a bit of in-fill on the series, a documenting of the years leading up to the War on Terror, during which Adrian reaches a low point, living as a single father in a terrible council estate, his parents again divorced (then remarried, then divorced, then remarried), his two sons stuck in a miserable educational situation, and his finances and mood in the pits of despair.

But Adrian soldiers on, as he always does, blissfully unaware of the comedy in his tragedy, writing a terrible kids' story about pigs, another terrible murder comedy about builders; discovering globalism's seedy underbelly through the lens of a road-size fry-stand where he meets truckers bound for and from every part of the Eurasian landmass; contending with pernicious headlice, authoritarian schoolmasters, foot-and-mouth, and a petrol shortage, and all the while chronicling it all in Townsend's deadpan style. Read the rest

Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction

I've just finished reading the sixth Adrian Mole book, Adrian Mole and The Weapons of Mass Destruction. Adrian Mole, the titular diarist of the series, is basically the same age as I am; I practically memorized the first two volumes while I was in high-school, especially the incredible, awful poetry that puts Vogons to shame ("Pandora/I adore ya/I implore ye/Don't forget me" or the immortal:
Norway! Land of difficult spelling. Hiding your beauty behind strange vowels. Land of long nights, short days, and dots over 'O's. Ruminating majestic reindeers Tread warily on ice floes Ever aware of what happened to the Titanic. One day I will sojourn to your shores I live in the middle of England But! Norway! My soul resides in your watery fiords fyords fiiords Inlets.

As the years went by and Adrian aged, I found myself more and more engrossed in his life. Townsend, his author, walks us along a tightrope balanced over torture comedy (a la Fawlty Towers) and genuine pathos through the first five books: The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged Thirteen and Three Quarters The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole True Confessions of Adrian Albert Mole, Margaret Hilda Roberts and Susan Lilian Townsend Adrian Mole: The Wilderness Years Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years The story really picked up in book five, with Adrian's television career as the host of Offaly Good, a British cookery show devoted to entrails, at the height of the Mad Cow scare.

Book six is much, much better, though. Read the rest

Adrian Mole: the text-adventure game

The Adrian Mole books are my all-time favorite English kids' books. When I was in junior high and high-school, they were practically Bibles to my friends and me -- we could quote whole long passages of them Imagine my delight when I found out this week that there was a text-adventure game based on them for the Commodore 64, and that the game is now downloadable froplay on your favorite C64 emulator. Link Read the rest

This holiday: Gift of Reading

This holiday season, Bay Areans can contribute to the Gift of Reading book-drive and help turn kids onto great, life-changing literature. I'm going to do a run to my local when I get home and round up as much of the following as I can for donation -- books I read and wish I'd read when I was a kid: Lewis Carrol: Alice in Wonderland Daniel Pinkwater: 5 Novels Robert A. Heinlein: Have Space-Suit, Will Travel Kathe Koja: Straydog Orson Scott Card: Ender's Game Joan Aiken, Wolves of Willoughby Chase Roald Dahl: Fantastic Mr. Fox Susan Palwick: Flying in Place Katherine Paterson, Bridge to Terabithia JRR Tolkien: The Hobbit Madeline L'Engle: A Swiftly Tilting Planet John Wyndham: The Chrysalids Sue Townsend: The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4 Carl Hiassen: Hoot Norman Juster: The Phantom Tollbooth Steven Gould: Jumper JD Fitzgerald: The Great Brain Michael De Larabetti: The Borribles Trilogy God, I just keep thinking of more... Twain, Kipling, Little Fuzzy, Frederic Brown, Lemony Snicket, Bunnicula... What will you donate to kids in your area? Link Discuss (via Dan Gillmor) Read the rest

Sue Townsend is continuing Adrian

Sue Townsend is continuing Adrian Mole's adventures in her topical Guardian column -- Adrian Mole is the fictional character whose fantastic "secret diaries" are UK classics and my personal angst bible.
Dear Mr Mole,

In this time of national crises, it is incumbent on us all to support our government. During a senior pupils debate, chaired by myself, your son Glenn succeeded in undermining the morale of teachers and pupils alike by his passionate denunciation of the bombing of Afghanistan. He also called our great leader, Mr Blair, 'a leading Twat'. I have therefore excluded him from the school premises for the duration of the war.

I hope to God (or Allah) that the war will be over by Christmas. I can't have Glenn hanging around the house all day. It is imperative that I finish my post-twin towers novel quickly. The book (as yet no publisher) must be ready for publication in the spring.

Glenn protested his innocence, saying, "I didn't say Tony Blair was a leading twat. I said he was leading TWAT (The War Against Terrorism)."

LinkDiscuss (via LinkMachineGo) Read the rest

Writer Sue Townsend has begun

Writer Sue Townsend has begun (?) a column in The Guardian, writing as my favorite literary character, Adrian Mole. Link (Thanks, Amanda!) Update: Scott, a reader, writes to say that Townsend's been doing the column for over a year. Man, you Transatlantics have all the fun! Read the rest

Oh. My. God. The "Things

Oh. My. God. The "Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About" page is not only high-freakin-larious (funny enough to give Adrian Mole a run for his money), but it's also charming, British, and obsessive as hell. I love -- love -- cranks. (Thanks, Drue!)

Margret's four-hundred-and-fifty-second most annoying habit is to stealthily turn off the central heating (then light the gas fire in the room she's in, natch.). I'll suddenly notice that, sitting typing at the keyboard, I can see my own breath while from the bedroom one of the kids will call out "Papa, I can't feel my legs." And I'll shiver down the stairs to find the central heating set to 'Summer/Hypothermia/Cryogenic Suspension, and Margret in the living room watching the TV in a door frame warping furnace. Link Read the rest