Saturdays with Bricks

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Garry Holmes
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Saturdays with Bricks

Post by Garry Holmes » Sun 14 Aug, 2011 23:26:40

Just recently I've been having a look at my Wheatley collection and wondering about filling in the gaps. One of the books that I've never seen, let alone read, is SATURDAYS WITH BRICKS. The copies that I've seen on AMAZON are going for between £50 to £60, which suggests that it's pretty rare. I know that it's a mix of bricklaying and WWI memoir, but I already have DW's autobiography, which contains all of his WWI memories. Is BRICKS really worth tracking down, or was it superceded by the memoirs?

Jim
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Post by Jim » Tue 16 Aug, 2011 02:40:16

Of course, if you're a DW completist, you have to have it. :D

I have a private suspicion that a great deal of Saturdays with Bricks was meant to wind up in Drink and Ink; after all, the book had been out of print for fifteen years, and had never appeared in paperback. (I've never compared--for all I know, all the WW I material may have been re-used in the earlier autobiography.)

As it is, the last section seems more like a draft than anything else, and "bricklaying" gets a mere page. Yet the author originally had every expectation of filling five volumes. (Really, 34 years of his career in as many pages? "Oh yes, after the war I wrote a few more books...")

On the other hand, unless you have a personal interest in bricklaying, you can probably get by without it.

Steve Whatley
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Post by Steve Whatley » Mon 22 Aug, 2011 21:44:54

Hi Garry. My opinion, for what it's worth, is that Saturdays With Bricks is well worth having. Apart from all the brick-laying tips, which I found quite enlightening, and the Great War memories (I don't know if these are exactly the same as in Officer And Temporary Gentleman, as I don't have my copy of the latter to hand), there are also other little insights into DW's character. For instance, I'd always believed that he drank only wine and spirits, but apparently brick-laying gave him a thirst that could be quenched only by beer, so as a beer-drinker (and that's NOT my profession) I feel that little bit closer to DW for knowing that.

Besides that, the book is worth having for the illustrations. Apart from the frontispiece showing DW in uniform (which can be seen in Room 2 of the excellent Dennis Wheatley Museum), there are ten views of Grove Place and its gardens. Of these, only two (and one of those heavily cropped) are reproduced in Drink And Ink. So all in all, I don't think you would regret buying a copy. On that subject, I would recommend searching on ebay or abebooks rather than the place you mentioned (good though it is for new items).

I personally doubt whether it was intended to include any of the brick-laying detail in Drink And Ink; the fact that what should have been volumes 3 and 5 of the memoirs were combined under that title merely proves that much of volume 5 simply hadn't been written. I suspect that DW dashed off so much as we have when it became apparent that he might be in his final months.

In answer to your question, I don't believe Saturdays With Bricks was superseded by the memoirs; I believe it stands alone as an important volume of DW's autobiography. [font=Courier New] [/font]

Garry Holmes
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Post by Garry Holmes » Sat 27 Aug, 2011 19:17:54

Jim & Steve: Thanks for your input. I'm definitely going to get it at some point, although it will probably have to wait until I can find a cheaper copy. I have copies of DW's autobiography, and remember enjoying it when I last read it (which was quite some years ago). It is a shame that he was not spared long enough to actually concentrate on telling us about his writing career.

Jim
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Post by Jim » Mon 29 Aug, 2011 00:39:52

I just pulled my copies of Officer and Temporary Gentleman and Saturdays with Bricks to do a quick comparison. I would have to say that the wartime details in the autobiography are expanded from what's in Saturdays, and are not simply copied over. There are different photos, and you really do need to see some of DW's bricklaying hats!

I still believe that the second part of Drink and Ink is just a draft. Steve makes a good point when he suggests that DW must have realized, as a professional writer, that he was probably not going to be able to complete two more volumes. The change in tone is very clear in the section on the two short story collections--hardly a turning point in his career--which is recycled from the various introductions to those books. Each of the mini-essays that follows might have been expanded into a full chapter, had time and health permitted, but at least the story was brought to a publishable end...

As to getting your own copy for a good price, it's just a matter of patience. My copy (for which I did not pay anything like £50) doesn't have its dust jacket any more, but it does have the following lovely inscription by the author:
For W H Bevon
With very best wishes
from his old companion in arms
Dennis Wheatley

Jim
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Post by Jim » Tue 6 Sep, 2011 00:03:29

There's a copy on eBay right now, complete with dust jacket, with a starting bid of £19.99. Heaven knows where the price might go in five days, but someone's got to win it, and it might as well be someone from this group! :-)

Jim
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Saturdays with Bricks back on eBay!

Post by Jim » Sat 17 Sep, 2011 13:40:02

That copy is up for auction again, now with a starting bid of £15.99. Don't say I didn't warn you... 8)

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