I essentially completed my novel, Tranquility in Sorrento, Tasso’s town, circa April 2013. Unlike Joseph Conrad, who, when finishing Lord Jim one early morning, shared a piece of chicken with his cat, I couldn’t hear my cat’s insistent calls to breakfast: he was thousands of miles away. Moreover, there was no feeling of triumph, merely relief floating in a sea of fatigue and alcohol. I started this thing in 1979, ignorant of vast swathes of modern fiction, an ignorance that cannot be overcome, perhaps only palliated, by reading 24/7. By 2013, having worked on it in time to spare and short periods…Continue Reading →
(dir. B. Robinson) (1985) Perfect homage to the strange death of swinging London. Withnail, I and Uncle Monty et al emblematize La Bruyere’s epigram that self-indulgence and severity towards others is the same vice. Looking up from our slim volume of Nigel’s poems, its pages stained with buttery tears from crumpets, we see the sky is beginning to bruise…home lads! To Vim under the sink and one bar on. (Look for more killer (and accurate) quotes from the film here). [See “Vivian & I” by Colin Bacon (2010, Quartet Books) for Withnail’s prototype, Vivian Mackerrell. Vivian & I available at Amazon.com]…Continue Reading →
(dir. Ben Ross) (1995) 1950s Britain never looked so dystopian and between his grotesque family and idiot prison psychiatrists, you find yourself wanting young Graham to keep getting away with it. Of course, with silly, smug, progressive psychiatrists like Dr Ziegler to let him loose and call him cured, he’s a shoe-in!Continue Reading →
Joan Lindsay was born (1896) when Romanticism still cast its attractively unwholesome shadow and wrote her unique novel (1967) at the height of the Summer of Love.
In this chapter we attempt, briefly, to rope and steer the stubborn and amorphous beast that is influence, with respect to Picnic, both in the writing and its subsequent appreciation. Time and space were not frames of reference for Joan Lindsay. Unlike most of us, who use them to gauge, respectively, succession and mass and, together, motion, she regarded them as metaphysical states of mind.Continue Reading →