Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

A moral query and a small milestone

Talking to my neighbour Andy about the Battle of Britain I found he was a WW2 planes nut. As I am. He lent me treasured books on the subject, saying I’d be astonished by their prices. - two cost 15 shillings each, £0.75 these days. But it was their narrow-margin pages and occasionally indistinct pix that evoked those distant days; even in 1961 publishers were mean with paper. I’ve raised this subject before. Is it legitimate to idolise engines of destruction? Andy says if you lived through the war as a child (I did, he didn’t), fearing oblivion and buoyed up by very clever British propaganda perhaps it’s understandable if not forgivable.

Did you know what was the fastest piston-engine plane ever produced in the UK? The Supermarine Spiteful, of course.

ENDLICH Following Plutarch’s Homeric 1700-word final assessment the novel, Gorgon Times, is finished. It is possibly an unpopular story, but I wanted to tell it and I enjoyed every moment, even the endless revisions. The greatest pleasure came from details, even page-long scenes, which popped up unforeseen as if there were some delightful conspiracy between my conscious and subconscious mind. It is the best novel I’ve written which doesn’t of course mean it’s any good. Plutarch has been very kind (“driven as much by sentiment as moral sense” which made me proud) and others, presently reading the MS, may give me a hint or two.

One strange experience. Revising it for the nty-nth time I came upon a deliberately emotional scene near the end and my throat tightened – BB the author manipulating BB the reader! Jilly Cooper, not one of my touchstone authors, says the same thing happened to her. I should add she was reading her most recent novel, not mine.

5 comments:

marja-leena said...

Congratulations on finishing the book - a milestone indeed. Interesting feelings on being a distanced reader of one's own writing. I've had some similar feelings looking at my own art work long after it was finished. I think it's because during the creating we are too close to our own work to see the big picture.

Julia said...

Those planes were agents of destruction, yes, but not simply that. I can't imagine a child not idolizing the pilots and planes that protected him during the Battle of Britain.

Major milestone! Now to get it in print.

Sir Hugh said...

In the mid fifties when I was fourteenish my literary mother won a poetry prize which had to be taken in the form of books. We three brothers were allowed to choose titles for ourselves to a certain value.

I chose a coffee table size opus called Aircraft of the World by William Green and Gerald Pollinger: “...without doubt the most comprehensive and authoritative aircraft reference manual of its kind ever produced”, and also Knots and Splices by Cyrus Day, “A handbook of sailors’ knots” . These are still amongst my most treasured possessions.

Maybe Mother would have preferred me to choose something more literary but never hinted at this, perhaps because she knew she had already laid the foundations for my lifelong pleasure in reading.

Lucy said...

I loved little warplanes and Biggles books and films about war in the air when I was a youngster. The destruction bit was secondary - bombers weren't so appealing but I'm afraid that wasn't really because of their destructiveness, they just weren't so charming and elegant. The fighters were something like winged horses, or like falcons (another passion). It was the elements of riding and flying and mastery of an alien milieu, I suppose, that were most important, and skill and gallantry too. All very romanticised, I daresay. Also perhaps for boys especially the technology and how they worked.

Also it was safely in the past, modern planes were not so interesting, though the Red Arrows were good at airshows.

I'm sure Jilly Cooper would have been in floods of tears at your novel. I guess you must just get attached...

Barrett Bonden said...

M-L: I can see how that might happen with art work that can be taken in and judged at a glance. Novels however are much more sprawling; to touch on their quintessence is more unlikely.

Julia: There is of course an aesthetic element too. I can still get excited about a de Havilland Mosquito but a Supermarine Walrus would have to work harder to move me. As to the book I shall in the fullness of time be sending it to my agent who, I'm sure, will astonished to discover I'm still alive.

Sir Hugh: I'd like to pretend I chose Pascal's Pensées and something by Meredith. But I must own up to Spencer Chapman's "the Jungle is Neutral" and an Ordnance Survey map of the Lake District.

Lucy: The first half of your comment might have typed you as a tomboy but the second half (winged horses, etc) has you comfortably occupying the gender you've been blessed with. Even so, an interesting bridge.

As to Jilly Cooper I have little to say except I used to read her journalism in The Sunday Times before she took up self-avowed fiction. However Mrs BB has a darker confession. Neither of is what you might call a dog person but Mrs BB has a genuine affection for The Common Years (non-fiction). We were living in Barnes at the time. If you as a dog lover haven't read this book, bear it in mind.