This is a neat and clever little magazine that in each issue is divided into two halves. The first half is devoted to an in-depth interview, whilst the other provides different views and viewpoints inspired by a piece of classic literature.
In this edition, the main interview is with Alan Cumming, who had a regular role in the TV series The Good Wife as a political campaign manager, has appeared on stage in productions of Hamlet and Cabaret and featured in such diverse films as Eyes Wide Shut, GoldenEye, Spice World, The Smurfs, and X2. He talks about his meeting with literary figures, his own writings, his career and what books he likes to read.
The book under scrutiny is The Purple Cloud by M. P. Shiel that began life as a serial in 1901. It is a (proto) science fiction tale about a clairvoyant who reads a notebook written in the future by the last man on Earth. This tells of him surviving a poisonous Volcanic cloud that kills everyone on the planet, because he is in a remote part of the Arctic at the time. He then goes on to recount burning down cities and dressing like a Sultan - as you might well do if you are as psycho as he is!
The Purple Cloud provides the opportunity for articles about the Arctic, the meaning of the colour purple (not the film we hasten to add), doomsday movies, bathing in wine, atomic bombs, volcanoes and a second-hand science fiction bookshop in New York City. That should be eclectic enough for anyone!
The magazine is described on its website as celebrating the pleasure of reading offline, and it certainly does warmly embrace you in the world of literature. Though it does have a nod to the world of the internetty place, because words underlined in the magazine are associated with titbits of information in the margins, more in the style of a hypertext link than a footnote or traditional reference.
We look forward to seeing what future works of literature it will explore.
THE HAPPY READER #4 / EDITOR: SEB EMINA / PUBLISHER: PENGUIN CLASSICS / RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 22ND