A favorite author, Gerald Durrell, and a favorite book: My Family and Other Animals

durrellmy family and other animals 1myaoa 2“Really, it’s time something was done. I can’t be expected to produce deathless prose in an atmosphere of gloom and eucalyptus.”

Gerald Durrell “quoting” his brother, author of the Alexandria Quartet, Lawrence Durrell, as a somewhat callow youth.

Quite recently I’ve been feeling unwell (nothing serious, middle-aged—migraine-prone lady nonsense) so this week I’m going to get that sorted and I will be producing no prose, deathless or otherwise. I suspect I will be back next week after consulting with learned physicians and indulging in a little of my own idea of a cure: lying on the couch surrounded by a pile of favorite old books, sipping quarts of sugary milky tea, binge-watching Ealing Comedies, and talking/texting/emailing with old friends.

It sounds kind of delicious… I hope your week is too, take care of yourselves, Vickie


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  1. George Kaplan
    August 25, 2014

    Books, relaxation, and watching favorite movies, that sounds like the Perfect Rest Cure. I fervently hope you feel better soon, Ms Vickie.
    One can rarely go wrong with an Ealing comedy, my mother introduced me to them years ago, and I became a fan. The Man in the White Suit, Passport to Pimlico, Hue and Cry, The Lavender Hill Mob (spot an extremely young Miss Audrey Hepburn!), Kind Hearts and Coronets, The Ladykillers, Whisky Galore! Sharp and Funny and Very English and mostly in shimmering black-and-white. And the actors! Alastair Sim, Alec Guinness, Margaret Rutherford, Joan Greenwood – wonderful. You have taste!
    Oddly, on seeing an advertisement for some program or other in which the name “Gerald” was used, I immediately began to think of Gerald Durrell and My Family and Other Animals (a marvelous television adaptation of which was made in the Eighties) a few days ago… Spooky!
    PS Speaking of “Geralds”, you and anyone else reading this might google “Gerald the Gorilla, Not the Nine O’Clock News, Rowan Atkinson sketch” to see something very amusing. It *should* be on youtube, I think. “Wild? I was absolutely livid!”
    Be well, Ms Lester.

    • August 30, 2014

      Mr. Kaplan, I saw three of the films you listed above during my malaise, my favorite (perhaps one of my favorite films of all time) being Kind Hearts and Coronets… But mostly I napped. The term the doctor used was “migraine hangover” but it felt more like hibernation. Feeling much better now! xox, V

  2. August 25, 2014

    We were definitely twinned at birth! I can’t think of anything more heavenly than My Family and Other Animals and an Ealing Comedy or three. Take care and enjoy being poorly!

    • August 30, 2014

      Sister First Night! Completely mended and still enjoying the work of Gerald and Lawrence Durrell—fascinating how they diverged; Gerald was so funny, Lawrence so portentously poetic…

      • August 30, 2014

        My dear sister, I’m delighted to know you’re all better. Reading your reply to GK, I’d agree that Kind Hearts is the best. Lawrence I tried decades ago and couldn’t deal with his writing. Might be time to try again. Gerald, yes, is so funny. I re-read My Family about two or three years when recovering from broken hip replacement op. Bliss.

  3. August 25, 2014

    It’s been too long since I’ve read this book. The next time I’m at the library or second-hand bookstore, I will suss it out.

    Thanks for posting this excerpt. His writing is a real treat.

    • August 30, 2014

      It is a treat, besides being so vividly descriptive, he delivers a good dose of funny. It is every bit as good as I remembered.

  4. August 25, 2014

    My wife read that book and loved it…she’d read quite a bit of Gerald Durrell. And I read the Alexandrian Quartet twice. Lawrence Durrell is a favorite of mine.

    • August 30, 2014

      I started reading Justine again! Nobody writes like Lawrence Durrell.

  5. August 26, 2014

    Be well. Time to indulge yourself as advised by a certain Sophia. : )

    • August 30, 2014

      In between very long naps I waddled around and squinted at the sun through the window and then I burrowed in with books and funny movies…only venturing out to see the doctor. All is well. Sending love from here—V

      • August 30, 2014

        Sounds good.

  6. August 27, 2014

    Love Lawrence Durrell. Funny, as with many of your posts I have a great urge to revisit.Understand the migraines, hope you return soon.

    • August 30, 2014

      Migraines! Phooey! I’m sorry you get them. They’re just bastards. The one good thing about having the stuffing knocked out of me (not literally) was that I got to read, and read, and read… Just lovely. xox, V

  7. Wishing you good health and brighter days. I’ve never heard anyone mention Lawrence Durrell. Thank you for doing so. I read the “Alexandria Quartet years ago and found it remarkable … the concept of four novels from different perspectives floored me. It took so long to read and must have taken forever to write. Later, I learned the concept of different perspectives was inspired by Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. What Einstein had done for science, Durrell was trying to do for literature. Take care.

    • August 30, 2014

      Lanny, that is wild… Who would take that on, but Lawrence Durrell? Now I want to read a biography. It is also very interesting that during the time his brother Gerald was describing in his book, the first years in Corfu; Lawrence was there with not only his mother and siblings, but also with his wife Nancy—and she (her character?) is nowhere to be found in the pages of My Family and Other Animals. Hmmmm!

      • Vickie,

        Feeling better I hope. Thanks for liking my last two posts. I somehow sense you have ties to New York. If so, you might want to read a little piece I’m posting Sunday on Fran Lebowitz — a true New York character. I’m so glad you brought up the Durrell brothers. They seem to have been lost to history. Let’s revive them. Did you know Lawrence was great friends with Henry Miller and was inspired by him to put more smut in his work? Regarding one of your posts: Hey, if I were a woman I’d go out and buy that dress worn by Doris Day in your clip. She really could sing. To bad she’s only remembered for those silly movies she made.

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