Saki’s satire, magic and mystery, and prehistoric tales

Seanchai Library

It’s time to highlight another week of storytelling in Voice by the staff and volunteers at the Seanchai Library. As always, all times SLT, and events are held at the Library’s home at Holly Kai Park, unless otherwise indicated.

Sunday, May 19th

13:30: The Lighter Side

A young H.H. Munro aka Saki

“Spring is sprung, the grass is riz” as the old verse goes – and many of us even know where the birdies is (quite a few of them outside my bedroom wind joyfully getting into tune at 4:30am in preparation for greeting the sun when it makes rises over the horizon!). So, with this in mind, Seanchai Library is taking a break from mysteries and murders, and leaving the crowded noise streets around 221B Baker Street behind.

Instead, Da5id Abbot, Savannah Blindside, and Caledonia Skytower, it a dive into the works of Hector Hugh Munro (aka Saki), the 19th – early 20th century English satirist and playwright, best known for his witty, mischievous and sometimes macabre stories poked wry fun at Edwardian society and culture.

Initially working as a journalist, H.H. Munro started to write his historical study The Rise of the Russian Empire in the 1890s. However, work on that was slow-going, so he turned to short stories as a means of earning his keep and hit immediate success with Dogged (1899) and a couple of political pieces. This led him to a political satire partnership with illustrator Francis Carruthers Gould and his first use of the pseudonym Saki with The Westminster Alice. Taking its lead from Alice in Wonderland, this series of vignettes poked fun at leading political figures in the UK, and was well-received (and many of his descriptions of politicians still hold true today: “Have you ever seen an Ineptitude?” his Alice asks in describing Arthur Balfour, the then British Prime Minister – to which many of us today could probably say, “sadly yes, the House of Commons appears to be a shelter for Ineptitudes….”, but I digress!).

For this session the Seanchai Library team present a garden buffet of Saki’s tales, including:

  • The Remoulding of Groby Lington.
  • The Match-Maker.
  • Hermann the Irascible – A Story of the Great Weep.
  • Mrs. Packletide’s Tiger.
  • The Stampeding of Lady Bastable.
  • The Sex That Doesn’t Shop.

18:00 Magicland Storytime

Caledonia continues Ian Flemming’s classic children’s tale Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang: the Magical Car from the Golden Horseshoe.

Monday, May 20th 19:00: Paper Mage

Gyro Muggins reads Leah R. Cutter’s 2003 début novel.

Set in the Tang Dynasty of the Middle Kingdom (about the time of Charlemagne in Europe), the novel tells us of the adventures of Xiao Yen, a young woman training to become a paper mage, a sorcerer with the power to endow folded creations with the semblance of life.

Because her gifts are in demand for the protection they can offer, Xiao Yen must leave behind her beloved family and their village home and embark on a dangerous mission when she is hired to protect a caravan. Yet even as she departs, she has no idea that this looming adventure will shape the very woman she is to become.

The story follows two timelines, alternating chapters between the caravan journey, where one of her fellow travellers is a goddess who charges her with a dangerous quest, and the story of her childhood training, when she lay caught between her aunt’s plans and her mother’s plans to have her married off.

Tuesday, May 21st  19:00: Kaleidoscope

When a brilliant young violinist dies in a horrific accident, Madame Karitska has only to hold the victim’s instrument in her hands to perceive the shocking truth. But when an insecure wife asks whether her husband will abandon her to join a sinister cult, Madame Karitska–as wise as she is lovely–chooses not to reveal all that she foresees. And when an attaché case is suddenly dropped into her lap by a man fleeing a crowded subway, she knows it’s time to consult her good friend Detective-Lieutenant Pruden.

A nine-year-old accused of murder, a man dying a slow death by witchcraft– for the hunted and the haunted, Madame Karitska’s shabby downtown apartment becomes a haven, where brilliant patterns of violence, greed, passion, and strange obsessions mix and disintegrate with stunning, kaleidoscopic beauty.

With Caledonia Skytower.

Wednesday, May 22nd 19:00: TBA

Check the Seanchai Library website for updates.

Thursday, May 23rd 19:00: Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Cave Girl

Waldo Emerson Smith-Jones was not overly courageous. He had been reared among surroundings of culture plus and ultra-intellectuality in the exclusive Back Bay home of his ancestors. He had been taught to look with contempt upon all that savoured of muscular superiority, such things were gross, brutal, primitive. It had been a giant intellect only that he had craved, he and a fond mother, and their wishes had been fulfilled. At twenty-one Waldo was an animated encyclopaedia, and about as muscular as a real one.

And so we are introduced to Mr. Smith-Jones, the unlikely hero of this novel, set within Burroughs’ Lost World series. Swept overboard during a during a South Seas voyage intended to ease his ill-health, Waldo finds himself carried ashore on a primitive jungle island, where all his book learning can’t help him survive, particularly in the face of the terrifying ape-like throwbacks to mankind’s early evolutionary history who live on the island, and from whom he continually flees.

And then he encounters – rescues, even, albeit mistakenly – Nadara, the titular cave girl. Regarding him a hero, she teaches him the arts of survival and her primitive language, taking him back to her tribe – who turn out to be Palaeolithic cave people. If he is to stay among them, Waldo must prove his worth by fighting the strongest. He opts to flee instead.

However, as he spend more time in the jungle, gaining in strength thanks to Nadara’s teachings, he finds himself unable to put her out of his mind. So much so that when a ship finds the island, he refuses passage aboard her. Instead, more sure of himself than at any point in his life, he sets out to find the cave girl who believes he saved her.

With Shandon Loring. (Also in Kitely


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