2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A bit dated now, which is sad because the prose is excellent,
This review is from: Coasting (Picador Books) (Paperback)
I first read this just after it was published in 1986. A re-read now underlines how much the world has changed in 24 or so years. Back then there was no GPS, so the coastal foghorns 'mooing' at the foreigner when they get too close to the UK, are no more. Neither can one's position on the sea be in doubt with modern GPS systems, and mobile phones mean that the isolation of the semi-reclusive 40 somethings living out their fantasies on their boats is no more. Further, it is sad to realise that our society now tracks our every movement, whether this is through financial transactions, CCTV, or paranoid surveillance of coastal shipping. I can't imagine that anyone can hide themselves away on a boat like this and live on a shoe-string. There would be too many rules and too many fees. The upbringing that Raban describes in the 1950's now seems like something out of a Victorian novel; however, in the 1987 paperback edition pp15 we also have this description of the English, which used to be a cliche, but which now could not be written or even thought:
"When it comes to sex, [the English (men)] are furtive and hypocritical - and their erotic tastes are known to be extremely peculiar. Many Englishmen will pay women money to take their trousers down and spank them. Others cultivate a neoclassical passion for small boys - preferably boys of a lower caste or another colour."
I can't imagine anyone writing this now, much less getting it published. I haven't checked the most recent edition; someone might want to see if this sentence (and a few similar) have been removed.
So I am rather shocked by this book now; it was old-fashioned in 1986 I think, because Anthony Burgess was writing similar lines but 2 decades before Raban. I'm shocked mostly by how much it has dated and by how our attitudes and mores have altered since then, mostly for the better I think (with the exception of GPS).