It Doesn't Have To Be Right…

… it just has to sound plausible


Leave a comment

Some Burgessery

I’m not sure what the collective term for books by Anthony Burgess would be, but Burgessery seems to fit – even if it does sound a little rude. Still, it was Burgess who felt science fiction would be better called “futfic” – which sounds just as unwholesome – so I’m sticking with Burgessery.

I’ve been a fan of Burgess’ writing since reading A Dead Man in Deptford in the early 1990s. He was another author I discovered via the Daly Community Library in Abu Dhabi. After A Dead Man in Deptford, it was A Mouthful of Air, The Devil’s Mode, The Kingdom of the Wicked, Enderby’s Dark Lady, Wanting Seed and Any Old Iron – and that was just within six months.

Whenever I returned to the UK on leave, I’d hunt out Burgess paperbacks. At some point, I decided I wanted the books in hardback. And that included all the non-fiction he had written. My collection is by no means complete, and only one book – Any Old Iron – is a signed copy. Burgess was a good deal more prolific than Lawrence Durrell or Nicholas Monsarrat.

Burgess has been described as a great writer who never wrote a great novel. Which is a bit unfair. Earthly Powers is definitely a great novel. I prefer to think of him as a writer who made a career out of self-indulgence – much as Frank Zappa did in music. Both were extremely talented, so even their most self-indulgent works are interesting. But both also had a tendency to privilege displays of cleverness over accessibility. Who but Burgess, for example, would write a novel in three parts: the libretto of a Broadway musical about Trotsky visiting New York in 1917, the home life of Sigmund Freud, and a science fiction story about an asteroid called Lynx smashing into the earth and ending everything. The book is The End of the World News.

But on with the book porn…

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,841 other followers