Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Absolute Beginners

Rereading Colin Macinnes's Absolute Beginners, I was reminded just how exciting the book is. Jerry White has a good chapter on it in our London Fictions and it is one London novel I would dearly love to have on our New London Editions list, not least because of the book's other Five Leaves connections, Unfortunately for us, Allison and Busby, under a series of owners, keeps the book on their list.
It was first published in 1959 by - who else? - MacGibbon and Key, my favourite publisher of the era but remains completely fresh.
Rather than rehearse the full story of the book - you can read a version of Jerry's introduction on the London Fictions website at http://www.londonfictions.com/colin-macinnes-absolute-beginners.html.
There he mentions that Manny and Miriam Katz is based on Bernard and Erica Kops (we've published a couple of books by Bernard) and reading the book you can hear Bernard's voice has not changed since Macinnes used him as a character in the 1950s to today. Bernard has told me a few stories about Macinnes's visits to his house. Having read a lot about Macinnes I was not surprised he was often drunk, rude and dominating. Not someone to forget, but not always someone to dislike. Bernard is more tolerant than me, I should say.
The second Five Leaves connection is that the anonymous teenage narrator of the book - a photographer who deals in fashion and porno photography (or what passed as porno at the time, about as pornographic as the side bars of the Daily Mail website) is based on Terry Taylor whose one published book, Baron's Court, All Change is a steady seller on our New London Editions list. That too was originally published by MacGibbon and Key.

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