Thursday, October 04, 2007

Late and Dark


This is the first time this year I will have closed up in the dark.

What shall I read now? After Denis every novel I try seems weak and rubbish.

Any suggestions for a jaded bookseller fighting off a SAD attack or shall I just read essays and non-fiction for a while?


  1. Did you ever read 'A Month in the Country'? (Carr not Turgenev.) My favourite recommendation for all jaded readers.

  2. Have you read 'Gents' by Warwick Collins? It's fantastic, a modern classic, it's.. you've read it haven't you?

  3. If you need to switch up to a biography I really recommend “Fear and Loathing in Fitzrovia: the strange lives of Julian MacLaren-Ross” by Paul Willetts.

    The blurb:

    No writer, not even Hemingway or Rimbaud, led as bizarre and eventful a life as the once celebrated Soho dandy Julian Maclaren-Ross (1912-64). Next to him, the conventional icons of London bohemia, among them Francis Bacon and Jeffrey Bernard, appear models of stability and self-restraint. Besides providing a detailed account of his extraordinary escapades, "Fear and Loathing in Fitzrovia" offers a portrait of the bohemian pub and club scene within which Maclaren-Ross was such a conspicuous figure. In the course of 52 hectic years, he endured homelessness, alcoholism, drug addiction, and near-insanity, culminating in an erotic fixation on George Orwell's glamorous widow, whom he plotted to murder(!!). At one stage he was even the target of a Scotland Yard man-hunt. All this took place against a variety of colourful backdrops, encompassing not just Soho but also the raffish cafe society that flourished on the French Riviera during the 1920s. Fascinated by Maclaren-Ross's turbulent life, numerous other prominent novelists modelled characters on him, among them Graham Greene, Anthony Powell and Olivia Manning. Despite everything, Maclaren-Ross produced influential, sporadically brilliant work, revered by the likes of Evelyn Waugh and John Betjeman, the latter declaring him a genius. These days, his many high-profile admirers include Melvyn Bragg, Iain Sinclair and Harold Pinter.

    And it really is as good as it sounds. MacLaren-Ross’s writing is worth a look too.

    Rich A

  4. Thanks folks - I have woken up this am considerably more chipper...

    Though I was persuaded by the first customer of the day to read Flann O'Brien's Third Policeman.

    "A thriller, a hilarious comic satire about an archetypal village police force, a surrealistic vision of eternity, the story of a tender, brief, unrequited love affair between a man and his bicycle..."

  5. Catheryn KilgarriffOctober 05, 2007

    I'm just starting Richard Ford's The Lay of the Land and think it will be my best read for ages.

    I read The Third Policeman when I was a young thing on the way to my interview to read English at Sussex University - and I then had to talk about it in my interview - what a nightmare. It scared me off Sussex -so I went elsewhere.

    And yes, The Bookaholics Guide to Book Blogs is available now, and Crockatt & Powell are in it (I did ask permission) - as are many booksellers. I think the passages from the booksellers blogs are the most entertaining in the book - our two proof readers were laughing as they read. Hope you agree and wonder if you can sell it in the shop (and sneak a look at the book while it is on sale?).

  6. Hi Catheryn, book should be with us soon. WAY too vain not to stock it...

  7. I just remembered something else. The Door by Magda Szabo. Fantastically assured writing. A real masterpiece.