(Chômu Press 2011). A book I purchased from Amazon.
There is no guarantee how long it will take to complete this ‘real-time review’, whether days or years.
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My teenage years were from 1961 to 1967 so the characters here seem slightly older than I was in 1964 – with their mids and mockeries of sex physical language of commercial exchange and Stones culture-clubs – and more – but did they use the word ‘gay’ then meaning joyful? The style is a perfect read speed-tentacularised with how I imagine observers writing about that era if drip-fed into that streamlining reality of fashion and unration and rent. The mix of beats – and the novel’s so-far leading protagonist Face, not Small, but Big on some flickering monochrome screen in the West End of my retrocausal mind. Reed’s “…the upbeat shape-shifting dynamic of London, 1964.” Followed gratuitously by Stephen King’s erstwhile Transatlantic reality (in ‘11.22.63’): “…because the past harmonized but the past was obdurate.” (21 Dec 11)
…”like a Quadrophenia out-take,” I could remain Sixties cool and say I’m working my way into this novel with gradual critical picks, a bit too 1980s Creation Press for my liking. But I’m getting impelled by the prose, the flash-back culture of Time’s centre as a universal fashion-statement that ricochets back and forth from the present to 1964, with the delightfully readable, but not wholly accessible, not too easy enough to make it unchallenging, prose style to match. Unexpectedly, I’m sensing a page-turning reality here of the bi-uni sex I must have once missed out on in real-time. And the eye-witness Carnaby Street culture – stalking the Reader, even if the Reader were never there to be stalked in the first place (as I was, I suppose, on school-trips from Essex to, say, Laurence Olivier A-Level-orientated Shakespearean Theatre productions in the West End). “It often feels to me like the key individuals who made the sixties haven’t really gone away, and are all destined to somehow show up again.” — “…it’s time remixed, and it’s always impossible to know what’s real, when you drag it across memory.” — “This is where John played such a seminal role. He put straight men into gay clothes, at their own request. It created the look.” And today, this book’s Whovian protagonist – if such he is – plays with his iPad. (21 Dec 11 – three hours later)
“The Face and Terry weren’t drinking – without even trying to they were about to start a new trend by spiking shocking-pink drinking straws into bottles of beer they never touched, but placed on the bar counter as artefacts viewed with visible disdain.”
Disdain, aloof, deadpan, cool panache – all words in this chapter, and the authorial point of view makes throw-away mentions of the Beatles and of The Who who gave their name retrocausally to the word I used earlier: Whovian? — such mentions delivered with similar passive strength, and reserving its admiring point of view for the Stones, including remarkable individual sketches of Jagger, Richards, Jones, Wyman and Watts with this sense of naughty nonchalance as their frame of mind and pose. — I rarely enter a real-time review of a book I’ve chosen to buy expecting to feel aloof regard for it, but, frankly, I did here to some extent. But, now, imagine my great pleasure in finding this book already (and anticipatively) a stunning rendition of 1964, its ethos, its music, its developing sexual manoeuvres (as I understand them), as if the authorial point of view either was there in person in real-time or has genuinely travelled back there through some time-slip. This is, in many ways, a documentary of that era amid Carnaby Street history; a documentary brought to life by non-documentary techniques of quite wonderful evocation. This is Fictionatronics pure and simple. You heard it here first. Whether you be terrestrial or extra-terrestrial, yourself. (22 Dec 11)
“I’m the Face. London owes a lot to me and Mods. We were the defining moment of the sixties: the look.”
There is an expression of giving someone an old-fashioned look, i.e if you want to scold them mildly for a faux pas. Here, I’m not sure which time-zone is the old-fashioned one in this context. Whether it is the Ham Yard of 1964 or the Ham Yard of a slightly extrapolative London from the Blair days, i.e. not the London that readers of this book ostensibly know or live in. Indeed, this novel ‘novel’ gets even better and better, with an aloof inscrutability of not only sexual mores and their contextual reality but also of one Time facing another Time, Fiction facing Fiction, aspirant Fixture facing aspirant Fixture (as anchored by a history (and its historian) of the John Stephen whose brainchild was Sixties Carnaby Street). The sixture-tune of vinyl verities (explicitly) in the “veins“, the cryology “drenched in euphoric orange sunshine“, “bipolar burnout“, “facial autopsies”, “hedge fund deals”, “sexed-up” dossiers of fact and fiction, those, what I have long since called, ‘synchronised shards of random truth and fiction’, the “retro-fixation” amid “delusional thinking” nudged by “displaced space junk“. The words flow into the reading-sump with syrupy ease, yet with sufficient traction to cloy or delay over-quick skimming or “suddenly gripped by the surprise narrative pull“. (22 Dec 11 – two hours later)
“…and then there was Jagger’s sluttish strut, his queeny steps crossing each other as an exaggerated mince, his hands fitting his hips like a burlesque stripper.”
Masterful stuff. It seems as if I was there, despite only getting a bit of it in the Essex area – via Radio Caroline – in the mid-1960s onward. Now, today, this book takes me there head-on. We readers are this book’s “low numbers“, even “tickets“. Yet I feel strong enough in the Autumn of my years, here, to attract and repel in one fell swoop, “a gesture of cult defiance“. Was it “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction”, by the way, rather than this book’s “I Can’t Be Satisfied“? “…‘Mick’ coming like a mantra…”? Androgynous and misogynistic as a host/parasite syndrome? This chapter a relentlessly minimalist Stones portrait playing into the reader’s veins like later eighties Philip Glass music…? The Face That Must Not Die. (22 Dec 11 – another 3 hours later)
“…in the period nineteen sixty-three to nineteen sixty-four, they’re always wearing this almost no-colour shirt.”
I put it down to some form of UV light in dance- or meet-areas, based on my experience of the time. Meanwhile, this is one amazing book. This chapter’s contents are at the ipad-ipod end of the Whovian spectrum, with causal, casual sex just one grinding wet T-shirt wrench away from the text, again and again. I suppose, people like me who experienced the Sixties for real are not really up to such things these days. Makes this book even more important, like a dose of Zencore in itself. The “diffident” Vespa-riding ghost that transcends time as well as haunting this book like the carrier in one of the best ghost stories as well as haunting a remarkable alternate future where Iraq should have a U afterward, like all Qs should. Rain in the sky like airplane fuel. Each reader a “contagious hook” ripping into the “human weird” to get at its “sixties blood“, my sixties blood… (23 Dec 11)
“He had also developed a recent liking for an even rawer musical unit, The Pretty Things…”
This chapter resumes the 1964 Stones-Bayreuth of the Face and his sidekick Terry, beautifully conveyed, non-ambiguously-ambiguous with the added double bluff of violence as propaganda. The music actually sounds from off the page in all its released urges of place and time, as do the then vacuumed Mods who weren’t really Mods … and we readers of this book now become our own Pretty Things transcended or self-visualised – even though we are what we are (grizzled or wrinkled or saggy-breasted) here on Christmas Eve 2011 by virtue of the modernisitic past intertissued with the various possible radiations or knitting-patterns of the future: an infinite number of such variations or just two: candy-pink and gentian-blue? (24 Dec 11)
“…if you believed human consciousness could be bounced around like an electron existing in copied states.”
I have now seen (as my regular real-time readers may be not surprised in knowing) the God Particle or Higgs boson, i.e. as this book’s “death-mapping” gene? The Weirdmonger Wheel as Large Hadron Collider or Bouncer? This is one crazeee-sensible book, allowing true belief in the photons of 1966 bouncing “oranger than today’s sunlight.” Authorially-unnemonymous self-referential carnaby-factoid biography-documentary explicitly sowing or knitting or sewing the verbal-icon DNA of a Blade-Runner /Talking-Heads reality. Rain as the sound of semantics rather than the words themselves. Visits from the Stone-woven, Stone-whovian Face and the book’s ‘modern’ protagonist’s searing sex with Suzie – a symbiosis via electronic fish-net restaurant-tables? The book’s story reads more real than that sort of head-talk, though! Don’t be put off by my real-time reactions. (24 Dec 11 – another 3 hours later)
It seems apt today for me to ask: Was the God Particle born instable? (24 Dec 11 – another 90 minutes later)
“…I had somehow travelled back in time […] I tried to reject the idea at first, but I knew too much about the intervening years, and those things weren’t visions. They were memories. The Rolling Stones…” – from ‘11.22.63‘ by Stephen King (24 Dec 11 – another 2 hours later)
“…an aloofness on his part that was no longer an attitude , but an identity.”
The book has the on-going opposite effect on the Reader, where initial aloofness of expectation has gradually turned (at least for me) to exaggerated enthusiasm. Justifiably so. I will not continue to extol its style or panache, but take it as read. Incidentally, when I mentioned the Pretties here a day or so ago (following, I think, only a single mention in this book beforehand), I did not know or even anticipate that this group would take centre stage – literally – in this current chapter. A “flair-up” of a performance. And a dysfunctional drummer that almost comes out of the page at you – “unmanageable” by author and reader alike! Amid the fracas, the Face becomes even more an icon and an almost do-gooder when he sees wrong-doing in and around the drug-storms … surveying what I call early surf-moshes of the dance-club. I, for one, am hypnotised by the Face, when I decide to pick up this book each time again – wondering if his Whovian properties are beyond even his own ambitions. We shall see. I also wonder which of the Chômu stable of authors are represented by which act: Stones, Pretties, The Who, Georgie Fame, Long John Baldry, Small Faces, The Beatles etc etc. Input welcome. I’m bagging “Cheryl WAT 2302“. Or am I the Pretties, as I suggested before? My drummer-gene twitching each time I pick up a pen? [I now come clean: in, I think, 1964 (at my then age of 16), I sat on the cliff at West Hill in Hastings and watched, via real-time, the multitudinous Mods collecting on the beach below me; a durably quiet and seated crowd that, later, in unison, without evident premeditation, suddenly sets off into mayhem: spreading in all directions as part of a swarm-philosophy I have never since forgotten…] (25 Dec 11)
THIS REAL-TIME REVIEW IS NOW CONTINUED HERE.