Thursday, August 12, 2021

Science Fiction Ads for the Literati


I love skimming ads in old science fiction books.  Commercialism may corrupt us, but I also am an avid reader of book ads in The New York Review of Books.  Still, SF paperbacks have the most amusing ads.  Smack in the middle of a back page that urged me, "Buy them at your local bookstore or use coupon on next page for ordering," I found the title of a hitherto unfamiliar book, The Elephant and the Kangaroo by T. H. White.  

Has anyone heard of this?

 I am a fan of The Once and Future King, somewhat less so of his autobiographical The Goshawk.  Shall I try The Elephant and the Kangaroo?  The e-book costs only $2.99.  I certainly would be happy to devote a few hours to "a hilarious romp" or "a mad flight of fancy."

The strange things we learn from perusing paperback ads. 



  1. reading an old paperback the other day i was transported back about fifty years by the glued-in thicker paper ad for Kent cigarettes... amazing how things have changed in the interval!

  2. Oh, lord, cigarettes! It is intriguing the way books try to sell things, though in my case I've mainly seen ads for other books.

  3. The Elephant and the Kangaroo isn't one of White's better works, to put it politely - it's set in 1940s Ireland, where White is visited by an angel giving warning of a flood. A lot of not-very-good jokes about superstitious Irish catholics.
    I'd recommend Mistress Masham's Repose, his books on eighteenth century England, The Age of Scandal and The Scandalmonger, The Book of Beasts - a translation of a mediaeval bestiary or the short stories in The Maharajah.

  4. Well, there goes the "mad flight of fancy." I'll take your advice and spare myself a bad book. I've heard of Mistress Masham's Repose, not the others.

  5. I absolutely love Mistress Masham's Repose and recommend it. I read it years ago and it stuck in my memory.

    1. Thanks for the recommendation! I love White and will add this to my TBR list.