My original intentions was to confirm some esoterica regarding Djuna Barnes (Coleman was the main force behind the editing of Nightwood and convincingMy original intentions was to confirm some esoterica regarding Djuna Barnes (Coleman was the main force behind the editing of Nightwood and convincing T.S. Eliot to eventually publish it), but the sections I did read were so engaging that I plan to revisit for a more extensive read....more
A charming memoir of the author taking a vacation with his friend and mentor, the Bloomsbury artist Duncan Grant. In the early 1970's, however, TurkeyA charming memoir of the author taking a vacation with his friend and mentor, the Bloomsbury artist Duncan Grant. In the early 1970's, however, Turkey was not exactly an easily accessible location to visit (particularly the tiny, ancient coastal town that was their ultimate destination), especially for somebody nearly 90 years old, as Grant was at the time. The inevitable adventures (including lost luggage, language/communication problems, lack of accomodations, etc) demonstrate that though physically frail, Grant never lost his verve, curiosity or sense of fun (or his desire to create art—he resolutely sketches every day without fail). The memoir functions simultaneously as travelogue, a snapshot of a certain time and place, a portrait of an artist and a commemoration of a great friendship. Written as a diary, it is also interwoven with Roche's interviews with Grant about his early memories of the Bloomsbury group, his romantic relationships, his experiences as a conscientious objector during WWI, and his views on art. Primarily for fans (the book assumes some prior knowledge of Grant and the circles he moved in), but one gets to "know" Grant in a personal, intimate way that is never really gotten from historical accounts. ...more
Really only for die-hard fans and/or those who are already interested in this type of idiosyncratic marginalia. Distinguishing a "notebook" from a "joReally only for die-hard fans and/or those who are already interested in this type of idiosyncratic marginalia. Distinguishing a "notebook" from a "journal" or "diary" might at times come off as nit-picky, but it's an important one in this situation, as this is less a personal record than a ramshackle collection of sentence fragments, long lists of slang, a few rather unreadable writing exercises, and many excerpts of articles and essays from other writers that Chandler evidently drew inspiration from in some way (and while they might not be of the utmost interest in and of themselves, they're interesting in that Chandler found them interesting). Also included are a few more formal pieces, such as his published review of Diamonds Are Forever, a study of American vs. British English, and a previously unpublished screed outlining Hollywood's treatment of screenwriters that he ends up characterizing as "a testament of failure." The essay, certainly one of the best things about this collection, provides an illuminating, ground zero perspective on the collision of a screenwriter's creative impulses in the face of an unapologetic Hollywood machine (one choice bon mot: "integrity is a nice word, and you hear it a great deal in Hollywood, but you seldom meet the quality itself").
Also included is the short story "English Summer: A Gothic Romance," a piece Chandler was reportedly very fond of and held hopes for reworking into a full-length novel. It is, well, immediately apparent that this would have been a horrible idea. The story, interestingly, reverses Chandler's usual narrative strategy—rather than uncovering the unexpectedly poetic in squalid urban spaces, he begins with the picturesque English coast and attempts to uncover the unsavory elements lurking beneath. And while I'm sure that if Chandler had pursued this tactic in earnest he could very well have mastered it in time, but as is this is a British romance-mystery as pedestrian as it is cliché, the type, unfortunately, involving such exchanges as "'I'm afraid you're flirting with me'/ 'I'm afraid I am'"). The proceedings are livened up with the occasional Chandler witticism ("I had gone, a little to be near her, a little because asking me was a sort of insult, and I like insults, from some people"), but they come off here as painfully shoehorned, as incongruous as memorable. It's not made clear if Chandler considered this a complete work, but as is it's (at best) a dry run or even an early draft, which means, I suppose, that it's perfect for including in an informal "notebook" such as this. ...more