The Sunday Books

The Sunday Books - Michael Moorcock, Mervyn Peake When I saw this book I thought, "Mervyn Peake's illustrations; Michael Moorcock's words: what more could you ask for?" The answer is, "Mervyn Peake's words."The illustrations were made by Peake for his children's story times and were not originally intended for publication. That many of them are drawn on line-ruled note paper and that some drawings have "leaked" through from the page beneath just adds to the charm.Some of the drawings are rough sketches, but still clearly "Peake-ian" and worthy of inclusion. For the most part, however, they are really high quality illustrations and they look like they were made for a professional commission.Moorcock's introduction is sweet and, as a friend of Peake and his family, his affection and regard really comes through. There are also some nice photos of the Peake family that I haven't seen before.Regarding the main text, as Peake didn't record the stories he told to his children while making the drawings, Moorcock has written a story to link them together. He's created a pastiche of Captain Slaughterboard Drops Anchor and Letters from a Lost Uncle, but it doesn't quite work. The story feels overly forced to reference the illustrations instead of flowing naturally. I also found a few of the references to contemporary news stories (the banking crisis, rising oil prices, etc.) rather jarring. Annoying because Moorcock is a brilliant writer and should have done this better.So, five stars for Peake's illustrations, three stars for Moorcock's text = 4 stars.As an artefact, the book is very well put together: good quality paper and sturdily constructed. It sits really well in the hand and is a pleasure to read.