The Patrick Hamilton Appreciation Society discussion

A Bit Off the Map
This topic is about A Bit Off the Map
Hamilton-esque books, authors.. > 'A Bit Off the Map' by Angus Wilson

Comments Showing 1-10 of 10 (10 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Nigeyb (last edited May 18, 2017 09:21AM) (new)

Nigeyb | 3802 comments Mod
A thread to discuss 'A Bit Off the Map' by Angus Wilson...

'A Bit Off the Map' by Angus Wilson

Because any book with a character who is a mentally subnormal teddy boy who drifts around cafes, infatuated with an untalented, artistic crowd sounds unmissable.

Thanks Mark

message 2: by Nigeyb (last edited May 18, 2017 09:31AM) (new)

Nigeyb | 3802 comments Mod
Another great cover..

Seen on this page...

..which contains this description of the book...

By late 1957 a consensus had formed among the bien-pensants that the “messiahs of the milk bars” were little more than quasi-fascist hooligans. This comes out in a short story of the period, “A Bit off the Map,” title story of a collection by Angus Wilson (a friend and patron of Colin’s, but no relation).

It is a black comedy about London subcultures colliding. There is a dim teddy-boy male prostitute named Kennie, who has attached himself, mascot-like, to a gang of espresso-bar bohemians in Soho, known as “The Crowd.” As the evening progresses, they migrate to a birthday dinner at an Italian restaurant, and then to North London where some grandées of the lit world are holding court (Edith Sitwell, perhaps, and Cyril Connolly). The party dribbles off and Kennie ends up on a bench in Hampstead Heath, where he kills a crazy old man.

Leader of The Crowd is the philosopher Huggett (obviously modeled on Colin Wilson), while next in line is poet-novelist Reg (a stand-in for Bill Hopkins). Kennie describes them:

Reg believes in Power and what he says is Shit in the face of humanity—if millions have to be liquidated what’s it matter? most people are never alive anyway but Huggett believes in Power and Leadership for the Regeneration of the World.

Reg is writing a novel with a character named Rawston, who is supposed to personify of indestrucible “Heroic Will” (this would be Plowart, of course, from The Divine and the Decay).

The Crowd is so transparently Colin Wilson and friends that the author feels obliged to “lampshade” the fact with this tongue-in-cheek disclaimer, spoken by teddy-boy Kennie:

The Crowd’s not the same as the Angry young men which you read about. Someone said it was and Huggett got very angry, because it’s by Love and Leadership that the Will works. And all these angry young men believe in democracy and freedom and a lot of stuff that Huggett says just gets in the way of real thinking.

Colin and Bill seemed to have enjoyed this cartoon depiction of them. Technically, you might say, it wasn’t really about them. It was more of a “meta-caricature,” a send-up of the way popular journalism had been portraying them.

Off to order a copy now

EDIT - Got it for £3.58 (most of which was postage)

Mark Rubenstein | 1343 comments Really hoping that this collection leaves me keen to read some of his novels, of which it appears there were eight in all, spanning 1952 to 1980.

message 4: by CQM (new)

CQM | 214 comments I absolutely loved Anglo-Saxon Attitudes and have been meaning to get on and read some more of his stuff but he keeps getting nudged back by other books offering more pressing arguments to be read.
A good review here and he might head to the top of the list.

message 5: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3802 comments Mod
Anglo- Saxon Attitudes has rocketed up my TBR list. Thanks

Mark Rubenstein | 1343 comments Many thanks for the tip, CQM. I'm off to find a cheap and battered old paperback just as soon as I punch the "post" button.

Mark Rubenstein | 1343 comments A Bit Off The Map left me cold. I didn’t hate it, didn’t love it... it was merely okay. Certainly well written, but perhaps a bit over-written, at least when stacked up against my usual tastes. The author seemed more concerned with showing off than with anything else. I’m really hoping that one of you comes away feeling differently, but I’m not holding my breath.

Mind you, I’ve never been a massive fan of short story collections, so maybe that played into it. I know that my expectations certainly played into it.

I did manage to get hold of a cheap copy of his Anglo-Saxon Attitudes, and plan on giving it a fair shot at some point in the very near future.

message 8: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3802 comments Mod
Thanks Mark. My copy has now arrived and I approach with caution. Like you, I am not generally a great fan of short story collections.

Mark Rubenstein | 1343 comments I quite liked a couple of the short stories -- namely More Friend Than Lodger and After The Show. But two out of eight is hardly a satisfying ratio.

message 10: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3802 comments Mod
The latest Backlisted Podcast is a discussion about...

Hemlock and After by Angus Wilson

More info here...

Angus Wilson had an amazing life. It's well worth listening to just to find out more about his life and achievements.

Needless to say it also made me very keen to read Hemlock and After

back to top


The Patrick Hamilton Appreciation Society

unread topics | mark unread

Books mentioned in this topic

Hemlock and After (other topics)
A Bit Off the Map (other topics)

Authors mentioned in this topic

Angus Wilson (other topics)