Friday, 9 March 2007

Praham Preene

I'm currently reading Graham Greene's England Made Me, which I acquired in a bookshop in Hull for 99p. This in itself would not be particularly exciting- well, I suppose it would be reasonably exciting in one of those glorious moments where you and an acquaintance get mutually delirious over any kind of shared experience*- were it not for the fact that it appears to be, well, signed. It's a 1947 uniform edition, with a "Graham Greene" shaped squiggle just inside the dust jacket. Presuming that it isn't a forgery (I once scrawled fake signatures all over the player photos in the 1990 Football League yearbook to "impress" my friends), I'd really like to know how a signed Graham Greene ended up in a 99p bin.

In other news, I re-read David Storey's This Sporting Life over the weekend (I was teaching it in midweek). I find it incredibly sad that the Monty Python "Yorkshireman" sketch has become metonymic for a whole generation of English writing: as those of you who know me will be aware, I'm not an enormous enthusiast of literary realism, but I think "kitchen sink" writing has, at times, been badly undersold by "grim up north" cliches and the recalcitrant positions of critical antimodernists. TSL is, for my money, so much more than the average novel of the working-class hero (if there was ever really such a thing). It was nice for one of my (decidedly Southern) colleagues to grace the book with a comparison to Camus but I think its possible to go further still. Storey, like Henry Green, uses ellipsis to the point at which the idea of narrative itself stumbles on the edge of some (presumably appropriately Brontean) precipice. Every page reveals a new satisfyingly dark area which obscures the very promise of resolution itself. The unimaginative will put this down to the lack of narratorial self-knowledge- a hunch that would appear to be justified by Lindsay Anderson's film adaptation- but I think there's always more happening with Storey than critics have hitherto been willing to allow. Of course, only about 3 of my students (out of, erm, 46) had read the thing but I was able to take satisfaction in informing them of what they were missing out on.

Also, I want to go and watch football this weekend. Diss Town v. Wroxham appears to be the only even vaguely local (aka cheap) option: I'll post a report if I make it.

* These moments typically occur to me when I find out that someone I know has a second cousin in North Yorkshire/ South Durham. The acquaintance usually doesn't find this as strange as I do.

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