Jeanette – by Joe Simpson Walker

I’m due to start below another of my gradual real-time reviews, turning leitmotifs into a gestalt. A book I recently purchased from Amazon. And it is entitled:-

JEANETTE by Joe Simpson Walker

Chômu Press 2011

Jeanette by Joe Simpson Walker

Cover illustration: the inimitable Heather Horsley

There is no guarantee how long it will take to complete this review, whether days or years.

CAVEAT: Spoilers are not intended but there may be inadvertent ones. You may wish (i) to take that risk and read my review before or during your own reading of the book, or (ii) to wait until you have finished reading it. In either case, I hope it gives a useful or interesting perspective.

All my other real-time reviews are linked from here: http://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/

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1/1 “I screamed through the gag.”

Skilfully enthralling us up front, we are involuntarily thrust in media res as the (despite a mirror) unknown first person singular narrator is violently attacked by a balaclave-ed, goggled intruder. Amid much furniture being significantly and noisily spoilt, a woman’s shoes are heard (recognised by the sound of her high heels??) coming up the garden path … as a source of rescue? But at least this person’s calls of questioning alarm tell us that the victim is probably named  Jeanette.  Much else is conveyed in a small space – and my own detail in this forthcoming review will devote itself to less, I guess, than more. Just a broad ‘gagged’ thrust-of-impression in continuing media res and no spoilers as premature plot-intruders. (30 Jul 11)

1/2 “It includes images and descriptions  which may be unsuitable for viewers  of a nervous disposition.”

Further enthralled – gradually – we learn more about Jeanette and the ‘whispering’ as well as violent nature of the assault upon her – and about her lady rescuer (a teacher from school etc) – and the personal hinterland of both parties – particularly Jeanette’s little obsessions and a cloudy “incident’ that meant she was off school – but we feel uncomfortable; I think we are seen as a suspicious form of intrusion; we are not being told everything by any backstory so far. Clever placement of detail though, with which I continue to be obsessively abstemious. Only the description of the telephone that is (nearly) used to phone the police tells us by word-of-mouth the nature of the ‘time’ or era – and the ‘place’ feels English to me.  My own area of hinterland or backstory from near-history? Intrigued, but anxious. Still in control of my own review. (30 Jul 11 – two hours later)

1/3 “It was fading. I was myself again.”

I think, as a reader, I’m being addressed by someone who is abstemious with the truth; first person or third person singular, continuity concerns (e.g. the teacher’s return home to her mother) about the time of day (if not of the general era) and who is duping whom about what. I just thought it significant that the first priority of Jeanette’s Dad when hearing of the intrusion was the books in his office, first edition books in which his business dealt. Including this one? I was bound to ask. But I’m sure the question will turn out to be ultra vires. — “…but the programmes had finished and all it showed was a grey screen.” (Another clue?).  (30 Jul 11 – another hour later)

1/4 “A furniture van next to us loomed over our passenger side and cut off the light at my window; it was like having a solid wall a foot away.”

A foot away? These boots (books?) were made for walking. Boot-obsessed Jeanette has cornflakes with the woman next-door, someone with whom she can bond over personal matters, someone who has a ‘fit’ son, although ‘fit’ as an expression that means ‘good-looking’ seems anachronistic for the image I’ve built up of this slippery book’s era, although “Brylcreem” slips me back again. (30 Jul 11 – another three hours later)

[I withdraw my comment above about the word ‘fit’ (although I can’t honestly withdraw thinking it at the time I read and reviewed that chapter) – because, after due reflection upon the text and a night’s sleep, I feel this was definitely a howler on the Hawler’s part not the book’s.] (31 Jul 11)

1/5 “(I could barely stay standing in high heels)”

Well picked-out details in cumulative effect lead to potential spoilers from which I will steer clear in this very intriguing plot.  Much variously spirited ‘genius loci’ regarding the woodland and a nearby evolving housing-estate up and down – and a rich reader-envisaged ricochet of characters still enticingly, if creepily, fleshing out.  I’ve not mentioned Jeanette’s dog Honey, but doing so is not a spoiler. Nor, I hope, is Jeanette’s book-dealer Dad’s perhaps significant ‘flat cap’ he wears to the pub. (31 Jul 11 – another 45 minutes later)

1/6At first I thought it was spelt m-a-s-a-k-i-s-t“.

Over the years, I’ve talked about narrative levels in a pecking-order leading to the head-lease author. As I reach the end of this book’s Part One, I suspect I haven’t yet reached the top of the narrative lease, let alone the freehold itself.  Characters & Time dealt with by a slippery omniscience – although Place seems a definite spine on which that slipperiness is erected, – which fits the role-playing and the Cartesian Mind/Body dichotomy in that context. [Perhaps the author-as-noumenon and reader-as-me are role-playing within the text, too, in some strange dance of fiction appreciation, irrespective of any exterior engagement?] “…I knew his secrets and he knew all mine.” (30 Jul 11 – another 2 hours later)

2/1At the bottoms of his jeans his ankles showed in beige socks, and his feet were in dark blue carpet slippers with a check pattern on the toes. As he walked about they made a soft shuffling sound.”

Outdoing by footwear… There seems a comforting collusion here between Jeanette and her Anxiety-provider, but one that makes me feel anxious, regarding the gratuitousness of certain behaviour, pointlessly cruel or just pointless. Yet art-for-art’s-sake, some call that pointless. But what worries me more is that all this is, for me, enjoyable anxiety. Supervised role-playing. I feel supervised as a reader, too. On edge. Brinkmanship in goggles. And the era of time continues to crystallise – Oxydol and a non-digital camera. Yet, the letter written to the Times could have easily been written today. But could the S/M or rubberwear pot-boiler-stories-within-an-art-for-art’s-sake-novel be written today?  Perhaps not. Forbidden and tantalisation go hand in hand. Today, not much is forbidden …. i.e. between consenting adults.  Just rambling. Me, that is, not the book, I hasten to add. (31 Jul 11 – another 3 hours later) 

2/2‘Love,’ said Dad, ‘you must see for yourself that wearing wellingtons all the time – indoors, and when it’s not raining, and even with your smartest clothes – well, some people would say it looks silly. Especially people who don’t think much.'”

And the “schoolie” schools us – quite naturally it seems by dint of her narrative – into thinking this is not only quite feistily logical, but also endearing.  I’m coming into line. I’m now entering into this book’s spirit of temperament as well as its spirit of place.  Just needs time to catch up – or stir sufficiently its retrocausal  double de-clutching into the right gear. By effective contrast, two other ‘loose cannons’ entering the woodland ‘playground’ renews the pervasive anxiety… As a Dad myself, and wanting to share anxiety, I empathise with her Dad, meanwhile.  [Another tentative ramble on my part: this is a book touching on unreconstructed or deconstructed bullying and at least a smidgeon or sense of ‘remember you’re a one-ball’?] (31 Jul 11 – another 2 hours later)

2/3The new mirror  was almost identical to its predecessor: it was the same size to the inch.

But the plot thickens. Literally. Jeanette in interface with her Dad, her teacher, her bra, her loo cubicle, her small talk with other girls. But the plot thickens, grows larger. Grows coarser. Coarser sheets, curtains, wallpaper, Dad’s trawl of books yet dust and junk but more tactilely coarse then than any ebook today, school rice pudding like thickening slime, big heavy gloves when doing her homework. The ‘whatever’/ ‘I’m not bothered’ girl clotting… On page 71,  there is an amazing longish section of coarsening features that is a passage to savour in two paragraphs remarkable enough to satisfy any reader who needs grist or grits in their literary sustenance, I guess. But whither the jaw’s over- or under-bite?  I sense this book has more than one tipping-point…. (31 Jul 11 – another 3 hours later)

“If my feet would let me…” ((p.59) Cartesian Dualism again?) (1 Aug 11)

2/4 “…and when I looked down I saw that I still had the same rubber boots on my fairy feet.”

And from thickening to a more numinous quality of (e.g.)  ‘fairy feet’, and flight on a motor-bike pillion (having been dressed-up tartily) seated behind her Anxiety-colluder – involving subterfuge by herself against her Dad as well as exploitative subterfuge against her as it turns out when they arrive at the destination of their ‘dirty weekend’.  Some more  very strong writing here, with the nature of her dual selves and the dark side of numinosity or luminosity (my words, not the book’s) echoing her erstwhile deathwish visions. She needs an anchor, overtly. Meanwhile, I receive my own first real anchor in time, unless I missed any such clinching anchors before in the text,  with a ‘fourpence’ tip to the taxi-driver and ’10/-‘ in a shop window display – and now I realise the chapter headings (eg 1/6) should have clinched that deal already! (1 Aug 11 – ninety minutes later)

2/5  [1d short of half-crown?] “But it’s better not to talk about money.”

“Maybe you need to know, now. I communicate on a need-to-know basis.” Like this whole book? And its narrative layers, one of which gives Jeanette’s real age as **. This is a substantial chapter in length and action and character development (some in direct shot, others (eg Dad) at home in sporadic foil or backdrop) – a chapter of a compelling tone, telling of Jeanette’s introduction to highly-geared concupiscence as well as tighter-knit role-playing – for filming. [Such scenes involved ringing true to me for such an industry in the days of half-crowns as well as in more recent years as based on an old friend’s long-term anecdotal evidence.] Filming done for money, that money, in turn, for Jeanette’s colluder’s dubious politics. Bad ends justifying the means. Jeanette’s vision – in such media res – of her mutant doppelganger is genuinely inspiring literature stemming from such tawdry means.  No mean authorial feat. A leitmotif to die for.  Inspiring, yet disturbing. (1 Aug 11 – another 4 hours later)

2/6The house was suffocating me. I seemed to be breathing darkness, not air.”

Jeanette and (her) Colluder – my need-to-know name for him, not the book’s – begin to take us in a reader’s own amoral-‘inspired’ exploration through a richly furnished detached house near to where their motor-bike cuts out – to burgle for money from its temporary unoccupancy.  It is suspenseful, anxious, page-turning action – and Colluder’s reaction to Jeanette’s event-and-atmosphere-‘inspired’ virginal ‘come-on’ with a convenient double bed is one of purity, as if he is some form of knight’s templar [someone inadvertently like that man in the national news on 22 July 2011?]. [Information on an early colour TV set in the house tells me almost clinchingly what era this book’s action is taking place. An anchor to absolve my anxiety.] (1 Aug 11 – another 2 hours later)

2/7 “Time slowed down, then put on speed; anxiety gave way to mounting excitement, then vice versa.”

[That seems to sum up this book so far. They even destroyed ‘my’ colour TV in this chapter.]  I sometimes can’t help thinking that this ‘couple’ who have ‘invaded’ the salubrious detached house are a mutant (Cartesian?) form of Bonnie and Clyde.  This is another driven-along chapter, and I’m relishing every moment of reading this book. The arrival of the house’s girl fac totum is hilarious, both cinematic and theatrical at once. The tall story they spin her about the circus. The anti-semite vagaries of the Colluder in some Wagnerian opera about Napoleon whiskey (or did I imagine that or confuse history with fiction?).  And that Napoelon’s clumsy need for having his swelling Eroica whipped up (my expression, not the book’s). And the discrete side-backdrop of Jeanette’s Dad and his own proclivities – we know now why the earlier loss of his mirror was important. I cease to empathise with him, but yet I still do somewhat, on past third-party anecdotal evidence. (1 Aug 11 – another 2 hours later)

2/8If only I could have jumped forward in time and missed out that bit,…”

Me, too. But another part of me needed to be exposed to this powerful, pitiful, sometimes hilarious, often tragic convergence of narrative levels as the finale of the book’s Part Two.  [But, from yet another vantage point, jumping ahead in time, I feel, towards the present day in England would have changed nothing.] I shall not spoil this convergence with detail – but you may find some aspects disturbing, like I did, as is the chapter’s cliff-hanger at the end of this sort of denouement or conclave ‘whodunnit’ resolution (but a ‘whodunnit’ still yet to be ‘done’?). I’ll mention just a couple of resonances (out of many): the two photographs separately taken in this chapter: and Jeanette’s earlier (what I described as) “mutant doppelganger” compared, here, with the ‘en femme’ one: a telling contrast amid resonance. (2 Aug 11)

3/1But Valerie was leaving, I could see it. She was fading away, and in his eyes Jim was showing through.”

For many years, I’ve referred in literature to what I call “dimmer-switch identities”, particularly in Weird or Ghost Stories.  Here, the concept is sensitively and, in my interested layman’s estimation, realistically handled within the concept of ‘separation’ by actual name and demeanour and (frozen-for-a-time) inner psychology during some of life’s stages in the rituals or procedure of male / ‘en femme’ situations. This, here, for me, has skilfully added poignancy in the context of the mutually-estranged parents now ‘time-sharing’ the care-responsibility of their daughter, the eponymous heroine.  All of them ringed by the ‘anxiety’ of alienation and the thought of one moment standing beside a complete stranger at a bus-stop and then suddenly finding oneself made to live with that stranger.  Alienation and potential aggression.  Only Jeanette’s lady teacher seems some sort of (potentially Sapphic?) comfort to her…. [The use of the word ‘queer’ is interesting in the context of this book. I still hear that term (unfortunately) used by people today when making such references, but it was far more commonly used, I agree, in the land of the forbidden half-crowns, if I may be allowed to coin that expression!] (2 Aug 11 – five hours later)

3/2My grandad always shaved with one of these. He didn’t like safety razors, when they came in – said they were for nancy boys.”

Thus, Dad prepares for the onset of aggression. Meantime, it is very telling – somehow – that, with the arrival of snow (C’s purity?), everyone would be wearing wellington boots, including J’s teacher ‘friend’ upon her visit. Meanwhile, J (seeking her own collusive victimization again?)  makes a secret assignment for a late-night meeting with C [around whom, if I may brainstorm for a moment, the ‘atoms’ of this book seem to spin, a Hadron Collider, seeking the ‘god’ particle…?] (2 Aug 11 – another 45 minutes later)

3/3 “It was as if I was looking at him for the first time; as if I’d never seen how beautiful he was, how fit and strong and clean.”

J, torn between rejection and desire, between making threats or promises. C’s well-begotten remorse for the wrong reason and misbegotten redemption of self as an angel. C’s garage in the snow housing J’s Golgotha of the female mind. We perhaps realise that Adam and Eve needed to be wearing clothes as part of their punishment-reward not being stripped bare as part of their crime. Or am I confused? [Thinking aloud about the exegesis of JC.] (2 Aug 11 – another hour later)

3/4It was so nice that she had boots on too. We were in the same world, with our shiny rubber calves and pink knees.”

I now know exactly which year this is happening, judging by the severity of the Winter. But not exactly which film that J and her teacher start seeing at the pictures (Dirk Bogarde?). The scene inside the cinema is very well conveyed, but I remember more smoke. And this does not seem to be a ‘continuous performance’ cinema where you could watch films middle-to-middle.  With some characters meeting other characters without knowing they are from the same book-reality or (with the section-markers of this book being a tiny pair of boots) from the same boot-reality (eg Ann – a Marianne Faithful sort of girl on a motorbike?) and some who do know each other on the quiet but not letting on (eg J & C) – makes for compelling if cringeworthy scenes inside the cinema.  This book is re-booted each chapter with a new pattern of interacting forces…maintaining my page-turning anxiety. [Although I might be soon forced to delay reading it while I get on with domestic matters.] (2 Aug 11 – another 90 minutes later)

3/5You command slave-prisoners who lay wooden walkways over the mud and rubber-backed red carpeting over floors thick with blood and filth,…”

As you may know, the Colluder writes Nazi fiction pot-boilers (a short quote from one of them above) – but, having read a goodly chunk of his fiction prose in this chapter, I must say they are rather effective, if one can empathise with the sort of audience it might command (which I can’t). His floosie from the cinema (Ann) is his new life, Jeanette forgotten (hardly!).   These and other characters veer nearer than when they were previously far apart – and vice versa.  But none of them set in stone. I even wonder – in a crazy readerly moment – whether a fictitious Author-Colluder wrote (on his manual typerwriter) this whole yellow-Luxor novel as a story-within-a-story, while the autonomous Nazi pot-boilers are nearer the head-lease narration  or ground-rent or story-around-a-story…? (2 Aug 11 – another 3 hours later)

3/6 [the price of a bumper-sized paperback book in the 60s?] “She still hadn’t bought a decent pair of boots, not even leather fashion ones; the sky was full of stars, the air was biting, the snow was freezing over again, and she trotted downwards in high-heeled shoes.”

That says more than a whole novel about J’s attitude towards her Mum. And this says as much of the world we need a fire-wall against when reading this book: “This wasn’t really the way to the ice queen’s palace. It was the way to muddy building sites and bulldozers that sooner would ruin the old hillside.” A world where certain behaviour was illegal. And crusades were fought, nightmares had, some of the latter mixed inextricably with real life, and vice versa. A whole mountain of meaning in names and who represent these names: “Miss”, “Mr Tony Kershaw”, “Jim/Valerie”, and revealed for the first time in this review: the Colluder: “Child” – and at least some moderately important narrative leaseholder called “Hector” – “Child” momentarily as a mock-“Jeanette”, or as Wordsworth’s ‘Father of Man’?  The onset of mixed motives, mixed emotions, and a narrative that is shocking, but inspiring in that it makes the reader shocked into greater sensitivity – and into an awareness of the nightmare reality we have all forged in the last 50 years – a sensitivity not only to pot-boilers but to Burroughs, Beckett, Robbe-Grillet – more names with mountains of meaning.  But I yearn for that narrative fire-wall. But I don’t think the probably unreachable ‘god’-particle author beyond the real author is going to let any of us have that within our grasp too easily. (3 Aug 11)

3/7‘The mad schoolgirl?’ / Sarah was annoyed but couldn’t help laughing. ‘She’s not mad!’ she said. ‘At least, no madder than anyone else.'”

Christmas Day. J has post-onanistic visions upon self more fitting for Easter? C in attendance.  And C’s Mum – Helen – I now realise is the fire-wall I crave, if only I can climb into her mind. [I love “modern classical, twelve-tone chamber works“, in fact I still need a daily fix from Webern, but I’ve never envisaged such an LP…  But I do recall having to arrange to ring my Mum by appointment between two phone-boxes.] (3 Aug 11 – two hours later)

3/8 “…till you got the imp of the perverse fully woken up…”

We are left by this chapter on some significant brink – C’s and J’s – separately.  In some ways I dare not proceed. In other ways, I dare not. This book is my own motor-bike. (3 Aug 11 – another 90 minutes later)

3/9Just tell your lies and blend a few facts in with them.”

I’m a busy reader today, and this is a busy book. Books: Dickens or erotic ‘curiosa’. Boots: in bed rucking the blanket. Black whirlpools…of books within books, stories paralleling others from within.  The retrocausality of fiction. “The gag could not suppress my cry of amazement and joy.”  Winter severity turned to fog and retrocausality of my own memory. I am bemused at the implied warmth of houses in this book. J with her legs bare: uncovered in bed. [When I was in the Sixties, bedrooms were generally cold, so utterly cold I couldn’t keep my hand out of the bed to read the forerunner of the ebook. J’s Dad’s house seems posh, but did it have an early form of central heating? Did he make a lot of money dealing in books, even if they were ‘curiosa’?] Brinks approach, brinks to be met or avoided.  The ‘Yellow Wallpaper’ feminine-invalidity scenarios of Helen, J herself, Sarah’s Mum… Yes, a busy book. But am I reader enough for it? I chase a better reader than I happen to be for him or her to take the book in hand like a baton, or in foot like a boot? The loneliness of a long-distance reader. Chasing the Noumenon. “Hadn’t I learned once that I couldn’t chase a motorbike?” Earlier numinosity become smells, from secret parts of the body, that even Honey needs to root out from a boot. Like rice pudding growing coarser still. (3 Aug 11 – another 2 hours later)

3/10You’re quite right. Orwell was a socialist – but unlike most of his sort, he was no do-gooder.”

Unavoidable Spoiler (but sadly not serious enough to be punished for): And now we come, quite astonishingly, to the book-reality-passworded type of “Eyes Wide Shut” party scenario beneath a Ligottian derelict countryside-marooned factory-works: “2000 A.D. – YEAR ONE OF THE REGIME OF PAIN!” when “everyone will be on the telly.”  Or the internet?  Life as a “continuous performance” cinema? Or a Zeroist Group ‘happening’ from my own personal hyper-vision or actual-version of the sixties? An era during which it probably doesn’t matter whether one had central heating. Or whether ‘fit’ means /meant ‘fit’ or ‘good-looking’ – or ‘queer’ means / meant feeling a bit dicky in a room with yellow wallpaper.  Equally, J in her Child-induced rite-of-psychology ‘happening’ or knotty tete-a-tete with her caring lady teacher … then J envisioning her own hindsight-empowered future as a ‘masakist’… (3 Aug 11 – another 75 minutes later)

3/11 [the price of a pair of stockings in the sixties] “‘Oh, I say so. Charles said you were good-looking. “Like a Nordic godling of depravity,” he said. He was right.'”

To the backdrop of J’s ‘dying fall’ (not a literal term, more a musical one) in tete-a-tete with Sarah, her teacher, we fully experience the ‘rising fall’ of C’s role-play in extremis. Truly remarkable writing – literature become pot-boiler, and, indeed, vice versa, in quite extended self-indulgent  length, as if some narrative level of this book is lip-smackingly relishing the scenes it is re-enacting or is enacting for the first time – as much as it expects the reader to be relishing it. “Perhaps in the year 2000, beat would be for the old folks.” (3 Aug 11 – another 90 minutes later)

3/12 [not an amount of money at all] “Where I happened to be in space, which room in whose house, that was at the most only half of where I was.”

A stunning finale I can imagine finishing one of those black and white cinema films of the Sixties (Taste of Honey?) – a culmination, a destiny, a poignant departure from the picturehouse through the snow outside, thinking of who did what to whom and who held most blame both throughout the film and at its end. Who was punished most, who was punished justly? The crux of angelity or depravity?  “I can never be sure whether what happened was his fault or mine.” (3 Aug 11 – another 30 minutes later)

4/1I cut it out and kept it for a long time.” (3 Aug 11 – another 10 minutes later)

4/2Funny, how we’ll give sixpence every night to be told a lot of gloomy things,…”

This is a coda that each reader will take into their hearts and ponder. I dare not speculate in public detail for fear of issuing spoilers. But each moment of each day of my life has been a potential spoiler. It’s just our way of coping with those moments that turns them into a different currency. I’ve lost my fire-wall and she’s no doubt lost hers, too (Helen, that is). One of the most poignant moments of the book earlier was, perhaps surprisingly, the desecration, as described, of Madame Mercedes.  But there are different varieties and degrees of poignancy, and that is just one out of many. A hilarity here, an amoral moral there. An erotic tantalisation there, a feeling of disgust here. I hope it has come across in my real-time review above the sort of major reading experience this has been for me. I think I must have the knack in choosing books for review, the serendipitous synchronicity of instinct or just the ability to trust the right people when they recommend books to me in their various methods of effective recommendation. This one is a fit book. An unhealthy one, too. That’s its charm. Almost a spiritual oxymoron. I will need to dwell further in private on its candidacy as a great work of literature. But it sure is already going in the right direction for that.  Meanwhile, I ponder on “exactly how well she knew her boy Child.” 

END (3 Aug 11 – another 45 minutes later)

PS: I still wear my books.

15 Comments

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15 responses to “Jeanette – by Joe Simpson Walker

  1. JSW

    Very interesting, I hope you’re enjoying it.

  2. JSW

    Hmm, when Jeanette says Child is “slim and fit” she simply means physically active. She says the same thing of her dad a little earlier. I’m sure I perpetrated some howlers in my period, but that’s not one.

  3. Sorry, it must have at least partially mis-resonated for me (my fault) with the following ‘good-looking’ in the text – and perhaps, as has been my wont in past RTRs, this may evoke a hidden meaning later?! (I”ve been a student of Wimsatt’s Intentional Fallacy since the the late 60s).

  4. BTW, I didn’t feel – at the time I wrote my review for this chapter – that it was a howler, but something very intriguing, just as intriguing as what I consider to be a general constructive slipperiness so far.

    I enjoy these RTRs when an author interacts in media res, something which rarely happens, but it has happened before once or twice, with interesting results. Thanks. 🙂

  5. As a rider – but not affecting anything I’ve said above so far – when I carry out a real-time review I try to steer clear of any information exterior to the text itself, i.e steering clear of anything recorded about the book on the internet or of any book cover blurbs etc. This is not always perfectly achieved – a cover image being a case in point … and the large print on the front cover under the book’s title (“She may be insane, but so is the world around her…”) may or may not be an official part of the novel-text itself?

    • JSW

      The cover’s strap-line was intended as a little period touch. Though I did once read part of an earlier draft to a clinical psychologist and he said “It’s very well written, but everyone in it seems to be barking mad.”

      • JSW

        PS Should add maybe that the cover design (which I love, by the way – Bigeyebrow and Heather took the idea and executed it better than I’d imagined) came from my suggestion of making it look like a Luxor Press book.

  6. Thanks. Bigeyebrow and Heather did me very proud, too.

  7. JSW

    Re money, earlier on there’s a bit where Child uses a half-crown as a paperweight. A lot of people would need Wkipedia to even know what a half-crown was…

  8. Well, I often used half-crowns in the Fifties and Sixties!
    Sorry I missed that reference or read it but not dwelt on it.
    Or thought it was an old paperweight?
    des

  9. JSW

    I expect you’ve seen Victim (one of my favourite films), in which the story’s most shocking moment is whitewashed graffiti saying FARR IS QUEER. At the time at least some people in the Rank organisation thought that audiences in the north weren’t getting it, since they took the word to mean simply ill or poorly.

  10. Yes, I enjoyed that film some years ago. But my favourite Dirk Bogarde film (if not my favourite film of all time) is ‘Death in Venice’.
    des (not a big cinema buff)

  11. Not a decisive parallel:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-14388331
    but significant it happened today as I finish this review.

  12. JSW

    Perhaps I missed a trick by not putting Jeanette in bed with a rubber hot water bottle?* But Hillcrest Way is a very comfortable place to live, materially. Hence the residents’ dismay at the estate making its way up towards from the far side of the hill.

    *I remember them well – and when we didn’t have any, and my mum warmed the beds with bricks that had been placed on the coal fire and wrapped in layers of newspaper.

    And maybe chapter 3/12 should have been the beginning of Part Four, and numbered 4/-.

    I was conscious of the 2000AD-party section going into a sequence of almost conventional bondage fiction – but most of my actual work in the genre isn’t quite conventional, I think. For evidence see Strange Desires, which is out in November (and coming to an Asda or petrol station near you!) Incidentally an agent last year turned down Jeanette on the grounds that “this material isn’t mainstream – it’s written to titillate”.

    The “Hector” section in 3/6 is certainly the most malicious part of the book. I felt the line “You
    write your naughty books, and I’ll bet you giggle over your typewriter thinking what wicked stuff you’re putting down” applied as much to me. But I was having fun.

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