[S.R.] Fairbairne McPhee - March to the Gods that Heal and Other Stories - Boriswood, 1933, Signed First Edition.


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London, Boriswood, 1933. First edition, first impression. Hardback. A rare book. Boriswood seem to have printed a trade run and offered for sale an additional 15 copies signed. The present copy appears to be number six and is signed to the bottom of the first short titled Apologia. It's a weird place to sign a limited run, but given that the first piece is just a single page and title Apologia I presume that Fairbairne McPhee was apologising for something. Being somewhat inept at poetry interpretation, if my theory is correct then he's apologising for being a bit grim, or maybe rainbows. Either way, I have no idea. I can find nothing about the author but can add a little information to the dearth of extant knowledge in that he's signed the book S.R. Fairbairne McPhee (it could be S.L., but fairly confident on the S). Presented with the book is a little flyer from Boriswood announcing the author as spontaneous and varied, and that a famous author considers 'A Little Storm' to be "perfect, quite perfect." Give me a moment, and I'll let you know...I'm back. Yeah, I wouldn't describe it as perfect but it's interesting. It's South Africa. I'll quote: "That night was love-night. That is what they both called it. He liked their love-nights [good to know], it was always restful [you're doing it wrong]. Once every two weeks [who needs spontaneity when you have rigorous schedules]: it wasn't much really [oh?]. Somehow, he wished she'd let him do all the arranging of love-nights [selfish]. The baby slept in a cot beside Pauline [creepy during love-night, but at least we know]. ... And Pauline lay very still, too [love-night sounds super exciting]. She wished he would jump up, grasp her, and be very strong and violent [setting the sad trope of women loving violence aside, this is actually, for once, important to the plot]. But he kept motionless [actually, at this point I started to put my eye-rolling aside as I think this may be a story about domestic violence with a male victim]. He remembered how she had pulled his ears that one night when he had tried to force his love between meals, as it were [I'll level with you, I don't know what between meals here means. I thought I did until he wrote 'as it were', now I don't.] "Sidney!" "Yes," his voice was faint from long habit. "Move closer." ... He resigned himself to her and snuggled his face into her breasts ... He wriggled his whole little body into her larger warmth, laughing, naughty, happy [ok, I'm not sure what's going on with that]. ... She was always nice and always apologised to him on their love-nights. Well, we'll stop there because it starts to get even darker when Pauline meets Laya, seemingly their nanny/maid and "little Kaffir girl about 15 years old", there's a fair bit of abuse of Laya and Pauline also beats Sidney when she encounters Laya after she had run away. Well, cataloguing didn't go where I expected today. Some of the other stories seem vaguely speculative, perhaps in the vein of folklore rather than pure fantasy - certainly the short March to the Gods has this vibe. Others are just ... well ... the short 'Virgins' includes the line "all these little virgin breasts flapping around" which puts the "A Little Storm" into a slightly different context and makes me think it's less about domestic violence and perhaps more an exploration for Fairbairne McPhee. The book deserves further investigation. It deserves a full read through by a wiser mind than mine. I can't decide whether our author is just another writer from an age where deep misogyny was just part of the landscape, or if he's trying to say something. [9991, Hyraxia Books].

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