Happy New Year 2005!
For Christmas I received a very nice book token and I was in spending it on 27th. There are a great number of very decent books at the moment. Perhaps this is merely due to the fact that I normally avoid Waterstone’s but actually there are some very tempting new novels. I managed to get the B.S. Johnson Omnibus edition with 3 of his novels that have just been re-issued. Johnson is a real blast to read. He can be funny, crude and beautiful all at the same time. He loved to experiment with weird settings of the print. I am currently reading ‘Albert Angelo’ about a young architect struggling to get his work commissioned whilst working as a supply teacher in 1960s London. The story jumps around and does all sorts of strange things but I must admit – it is brilliant. I even managed to find a book on French architecture so that I could read up. The character reminds me of George Orwell, when he wrote about people who felt compelled to do certain jobs to live the live they wanted such as ‘Clergyman’s daughter’ or ‘Keep the aspidistra flying’.
He also manages to fill the story up with details of all the different bus line numbers, the types of cafe and buildings in London at that time, as if you were living there. There is a very good line at the start of the story when he explains that he lost his last girlfriend because she fell in love with a cripple. When his mum heard that she told him ’perhaps when the cripple dies you’ll get her back’.
The other book that I am enjoying is the biography of Patrick Kavanagh. Part of the reason for this is that my Grandad was born in Monaghan at around the same time as Kavanagh was born, part of the reason is that I really enjoy his poetry. Whilst my Grandad moved to the city to learn his trade as a tailor, Kavanagh moved to Dublin to become a poet. I can’t help feeling that they both had the same love of the countryside. On the first day of school Patrick Kavanagh was sent home to pick up something and never returned all day. He was eventually found lying down under a railway bridge. He just didn’t feel ‘inclined’ to return to school on a nice day. A lot of people would criticize nature poetry for being naïve, I would refuse to believe that anything about country people is naïve. The only people who are naïve are town people who don’t want to think about the countryside.