tourney season?

...it is by no means an easy thing to be promoted from the rank of 'visitor' to that of 'resident. It has been known to take many years. It is difficult to understand quite how the transference comes about. It is an almost mystical procedure and is, of course, in the hands of the natives - that basic layer in the triple sandwich of island life.

Mervyn Peake, Mr Pye

Tourism is the great soporific. It's a huge confidence trick, and gives people the dangerous idea that there's something interesting in their lives.

J.G.Ballard, Millennium People
while the Tournament of Books rages on elsewhere (thanks Paul), i, too, find myself coincidentally pitting several books, if not necessarily against each other, then in a chaotic, randomly rotating tag team.

of these, Mr Pye and Millennium People (incidentally, i don't know why the cover on amazon.co.uk is in grayscale. my copy has Richard Green's cover illustration against a field of sunset-y orange reminiscent of Liz Pyle's cover for Mother London) provide the most interesting contrast: one was written right smack in the middle of the twentieth century, the other not long after the end of it. both describe a kind of parochialism and/or the struggle against it - in the Sarnians of the former, the middle class revolutionaries of the latter - and identify (or identify with) the decadence of that period, and, in their own distinct ways, constitute a rebellion against it.

Peake, though considered a 'modernist', writes in prose that feels almost archaic: his sentences are lengthy, his diction colorful and vivid; Ballard's prose is stark, a sharp if typical example of the kind of prose found in postmodern surrealist fiction. (well, the sort i've encountered, at any rate, in books that have often, if not consistently, been labeled as such.)

Thomas Pynchon's Against the Day, i find, provides a nice bed for the other two to lie in, a sort of contemporary mongrel middle ground that resists categorization while nestling comfortably into either 'potential pigeonhole' (or foxhole, as we are, ostensibly, at war here.) and quite a few others, at that.

Lee Smolin's The Trouble with Physics fills a few unavoidable gaps in the fractured rule of my inner gestapo of 'taste'.

i've also been unable to stop myself from writing, providing a disingenuous sense of creative equilibrium.

oh, cool. The Office. and Donny Osmond, Kelly Holmes and David Baddiel on The Kumars at No 42.


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