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text 2017-03-18 10:21
Why I Love Circus Books
Toby Tyler, or Ten Weeks with a Circus - James Otis
A Spark of Justice - J.D. Hawkins
Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen
Joyland - Stephen King
The Life of P.T. Barnum, by Himself. Author's Ed - Phineas Barnum
Under the Big Top: A Season with the Circus - Bruce Feiler
The Advance Man: A Journey Into the World of the Circus - Jamie MacVicar
Mr. Stubbs's Brother: A Sequel to Toby Tyler (Illustrated Edition) (Dodo Press) - James Otis

Every child is enchanted by the idea of the circus at some point in their young life. For me, this began with the story of Toby Tyler, by James Otis, alternately titled Ten Weeks with a Circus. The story was also made into a movie called Toby Tyler as well as a radio dramatisation.

 

As I became an adult, I learned that the way animals were treated in the real life circus could be brutal at times and the big cats, whom I loved most, spent their lives in cages the size of a train car. Circuses are actually not legally allowed to keep animals in the UK. So, for me, the magic of the circus is relegated to fantasy; to the world of books.

 

While fiction satisfies my fascination with life behind the scenes of the circus, some non-fiction books are also very interesting, relating what this life was really like in the days when there was no regulation to speak of to keep the activities of circus folk completely legal. While circus is primarily a performance profession, there was a time when 'hooch tents' and violations of prohibition played a significant role on the seedy side of traveling entertainment.

 

Some stories relate this side of circus life as openly as the non-fiction books, like Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. The author did her research well and many incidents, including a very amusing situation involving an elephant stealing lemonade, came from real anecdotes from circus people. There are some sad incidents concerning animals in the annals of real circus life as well, but these I try to avoid.

 

Circus books are my fantasy circus, where animals are never mistreated and it's all about the magic of entertainment. I am, however, fussy about authors doing their research properly. I have an aunt who traveled with the carnival in her youth and she taught me the differences between the circus and the carnival. A fast way to get me to abandon a book is to write in a carnival setting and mention a Big Top or to refer to circus people as Carnies.

 

These worlds have a few things in common, but distinct differences. I loved how Stephen King got around all that in Joyland by setting the story in an amusement park owned by someone who had worked for both the circus and the carnival sometime in his past.

 

I recently found another book by James Otis on Amazon, Mr. Stubb's Brother, A Sequel to Toby Tyler. It was even free! Naturally this is high on my tbr, but I want to re-read Toby Tyler again first. These circus stories bring out my inner child and for just a little while, allow me to enter a world where it's all about the magic.

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review 2016-12-31 00:00
Joyland
Joyland - Stephen King This isn't a Stephen King book about which I'd heard very much. Not sure why because it was excellent. Tore through it in a couple of days. It's not standard King horror, beyond a touch of supernatural. Don't be fooled or put off by the pulpy cover. It's a wonderful story--a murder mystery combined with a coming of age tale, populated with all the fully fleshed characters that King always delivers and steeped in the world of the old-time carnie. And with lots of tugs on the heart strings. Highly recommended.
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review 2016-10-05 00:00
Joyland
Joyland - Stephen King This is great for someone wanting a little spooky without actual horror. It's a murder mystery and sort of a coming of age tale. I got into it. It has that eerie feeling like something is coming throughout and is pretty good storytelling in my opinion, kind of feels like a longer version of camp side ghost story.
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quote 2016-09-07 22:05
Ludzie uważają, że pierwsza miłość jest piękna i nigdy nie piękniejsza niż w momencie, kiedy ta pierwsza więź się zrywa. Słyszeliście pewnie z tysiąc piosenek country i popowych, które tego dowodzą; jakiemuś głupcowi złamano serce. A jednak to pierwsze złamane serce zawsze boli najbardziej, goi się najwolniej i pozostawia najbardziej widoczną bliznę. Co w tym pięknego?
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text 2016-07-14 01:08
Reading progress update: I've read 43 out of 283 pages.
Joyland - Stephen King

"When it comes to the past, everyone writes fiction."

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