Alice in Sunderland: or, I stole my wife’s birthday present

As Alice herself said, ‘what is the use of a book without pictures?’

Alice in Sunderland
Yes, I have to confess that for once I read the book before she has. And it was the one our dear boy bought his mother for her birthday! Alice in Sunderland by Bryan Talbot is sub-titled ‘an Entertainment’, and it certainly is. As Alice herself said, ‘what is the use of a book without pictures?’ This book consists entirely of pictures – with accompanying words, of course. And what a terrific range of styles he uses! The epigraph quotes some fine chap called Edmund Miller: ‘Reality is not enough; we need nonsense too.’ Quite right, of course.

So if you want to find out about the history of the Sunderland Empire (no, it’s not like the British Empire – it’s more fun, even if 191 children did die there in a tragic accident in 1883), the origins of ‘Mackem’ (and why they hate the Geordies), and what it all has to do with Lewis Carroll, get hold of a copy of this book and find out for yourself. There are even pages by Hogarth and Leo Baxendale, creator of the Bash Street Kids. The title is so good it must have been used before, I thought – and it has, as the book tells us, in 1965 by the Shadows.

You don’t have to have Sunderland connections to enjoy this book, though of course it helps, nor do you need to be a Carroll enthusiast. But don’t just take my word for it – see the review in The Observer, where it’s described as ‘one of the most exhilarating books I’ve read in years…. a minor masterpiece’. Then add your own comments right here!

2 thoughts on “Alice in Sunderland: or, I stole my wife’s birthday present”

  1. There’s a wonderful strip cartoon version of Tristam Shandy which I bought copies of a few years ago. Unfortunately gave them both away, they were so good. One pun I remember incorporated Derrida as DearReader – but there was much else!

  2. Not much discussion going on here Tom! How about a ‘what’ve you been reading recently’ strand? Anybody out there read Night Watch? I wonder what you thought of the back to front time scheme? Been done once or twice before, I know. I found it frustrating. What drives a narrative is ‘what happens next?’ rather than, ‘How did we get here?’. And however hard you try, individual sections still have to be written in a forwards direction so it’s kind of counter productive. Other opinions?

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