Category: London

Patrick McCabe:

The latest addition to my website is Patrick McCabe‘s Poguemahone. The title is the Irish for kiss my arse. Our main characters are Una and Dan Fogarty Now (2019) Una has dementia and is in a care home in southern England, where she causes a certain amount of disruption while Dan takes care of her. However, the basis of the story, told in blank verse format and owing a lot to the the traditional Irish song, is the Mahavishnu Anarchist Temple, in London in the 1970s, where Una, Dan and a lot of others live, with plenty of drugs, drink sex and 70s music. The IRA, various ghosts, raucous activities, with complaints by the neighbours and visits from the police and even suicide all feature, told in McCabe’s Irish drinking song style and inevitably ending badly. Una and Dan even visit in 2019 (it is now a motel) and find a medallion Una left behind. It went on a bit too long for me but McCabe certainly had fun writing it.

Miloš Crnjanski: Roman o Londonu [London Novel]

The latest addition to my website is Miloš Crnjanski‘s Roman o Londonu [London Novel]. This is a long and sad tale, based on Crnjanski’s own life, about a Russian prince, Nikolai Rodionovich Repnin, and his wife, Nadia,in exile in London. They had fled Crimea in 1922 and travelled around Europe but, because of World War II, are now (late 1947) in London. Initially, they had survived by selling valuables but now they are broke. Nikolai manages to get a few odd jobs but never seems to fit in particularly with the British but nor with the many Poles nor, indeed, with his fellow Russians. Nadia makes and sells dolls but it is not very lucrative. We follow in detail their struggles with housing, jobs, money and, above all, depression over their fate. Both consider suicide. In the end, Nadia goes to the United States, where she has an aunt, and tries to get a visa for Nikolai. This is an excellent novel on the travails of forced exile. It is not available in English but surprisingly, it has just appeared in Italian, forty-eight after its original publication in Serbian.

London Underground

Arthur Lowe catches the tube in The Bed-Sitting Room

Arthur Lowe catches the tube in The Bed-Sitting Room

Having read John Lanchester‘s article on the lack of novels involving the London Tube system, I decided to create a list of novels (partially) set on the London Underground Railway. While I did find a few, there were not many impressive works, with far more films, including one that did not make Wikipedia’s list (see above) though it did make this list. Lanchester says that as the tube is so central to Londoners’ lives, he is surprised that there is no novel where the tube is central. Of the novels on my list, I had read six and, I must confess, that only with the Julian Barnes’ novel, did I even remember the tube featuring at all. However, people do read on the Underground as Annie Mole’s excellent blog shows.

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