April in London (Three in One)

I had thought I had blogged my say on Tusitala (Robert Louis Stevenson) on iprefernottopart2, but the nasty idiocy of someone named Ian Pindar, in his short blurb on Stevenson in THE GUARDIAN SATURDAY REVIEW (MARCH 25), begs to be answered. The Guardian Sat. Review contains possibly the best weekly literary journalism of any English-language publication (despite the rise of The Independent), but this comment on RLS is an abomination: "Before he died suddenly, aged 44, of a brain hemmorage, he was churning out any old thing to pay the bills while his wife went mad."

In my RLS blog, responding to a similarly stupid full review of the new RLS biography, I pointed out that the English (subconsciously Imperialist) take on Tusitala and on any south seas writing is to denigrate it by a typically sneering tone which is usually learned in public (i.e. private) schools. Suffice to repeat that some of RLS's best work was produced in the south seas during the last 5 years of his life, including THE BEACH AT FALESA, one of the greatest long short stories ever penned, and the final unfinished masterwork, THE WEIR OF HERMISTON, in addition to multitudes of quite serious essays in the field of what we would now call "cultural studies".

Fanny Osbourne, his American wife, had long suffered from an undiagnosed illness, which, apparently, came and went, and her bouts of depression and obsessive compulsions and madnesses and the family's struggle with this is, for this Ian Pindar jerk, a source of amusement.

Of course the successes of TREASURE ISLAND and JEKYLL AND HYDE and other early works paid the bills at Vailima, along with his inheritance, and he did not have to do hack-work as the reviewer alleges.

Both pieces on Claire Harman's well-written and clearly well-researched biography demonstrate a total lack of knowledge of RLS's writings from Samoa.

Although Harman's text seems a labour of love, there is one error in it which goes uncorrected. I had written to her about it, but I have received no response, so I will put it out for the record.

AITU does not translate "uncanny" as she would have it, but (to the best of my knowledge) "goddess" (feminine of ATUA) -- although it is true that native Samoans, referring to Fanny in this manner, could easily have been ironic in their tone.



London's cafe of the lost -
40 years ago, Beano's
now Chez Nous
Haverstock Hill
A good place for a lonely man
For the defeated

Katie at the Moon & Sixpence

London today -
Marauding gangs of blacks
Up Malden Road, Mansfield Road
(No wonder there's still a Natl. Front)
A dark, cold, nasty city all changed -
Suits my disposition
Be good though to have my revolver here
Never? How then defend against knife gangs?
Jack The Ripper's Town
"Old man smoking a pipe
petting a cat" Kerouac wrote
Masculine city
(opposite of San Francisco)
Constipated glorification of the anal
A place to live alone
The warrior's cry:
A good day to die.



Let's call it that until a fourth book in the series emerges. Malcolm Pryce's first three novels, ABERYSTWYTH MON AMOUR, LAST TANGO IN ABERYSTWYTH, and THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING IN ABERYSTWYTH are unlikely to be nominated for any major literary prize in the UK since wryly comic and ironic detective stories set in a small Welsh seaside town are not the meat of the Man Booker nor the Whitbread panels (as Iain Sinclair's best novel to date, DINING ON STONES, also was not). However, they are all excellent works of fiction, all featuring one of the most alluring heroines in all of Anglo-Welsh literature, and which, to someone like myself, who lived there for three years, could just as easily be read as non-fiction, so rooted are these wonderful books in their fine and deep sense of place.

Welsh poet Owen Sheers has pointed out: "George Borrow, in WILD WALES, wrote that the Welsh will never forget they were conquered by the English, but the English have already forgotten."