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Fear and Loathing in Fitzrovia: The Strange Lives of Julian Maclaren-Ross Paperback – 3 Jan 2003

4.2 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Dewi Lewis Publishing; Reprint edition (3 Jan. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1899235698
  • ISBN-13: 978-1899235698
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15.2 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 73,619 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book is an outstanding debut in the genre of biography always a tricky art and made more so by the mysterious and bizzare life led by its subject, Julian Maclaren-Ross. This book is a must read for anyone even remotley interested in the literary history of the 40's. Of which Maclaren-Ross was perhaps its most striking exemplar. Tracing his origins and early life in Nice and later to the South Coast, Bognor Regis where his still in print novel "Of love and Hunger " is set, the story gathers pace at the start of war when Maclaren-Ross came to prominence as a new star in the London Litereary firmament with his short stories, many chronicling his life and expereicnes in the British army. Once discharged form there he headed to London his first proper book deal contracted, he took a flat in Maida Vale and with the publishers advance got himself a stylish dandy's new wardrobe. His daily routine then would consist of propping up the saloon Bar of the Wheatsheaf on Rathbone Place from opening time til 3pm, when pubs shut for 3 hours, back again for the evening stint and later home by last tube or more frequently a taxi to write through the night fuelled on black coffee and benzedrine and later his "green bombs" - much stronger methamphetamine, he procured from a doctor who also drank in the Wheatsheaf. He turned his prodigious talents to writing a whole range of things from novels, short stories radio and film scrpits book reviews and "middles" for the Times Literary Supplement.Using his charm and sartorially elegant appearance to help him live in hotel rooms and bedsits alike. Always in need of cash he often flitted from his hotel room amassing huge bills along the way.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Anyone who has enjoyed Knut Hamsun's 'Hunger' or Henry Miller's 'Tropic' series should read this book.
Anyone familiar with Jeffrey Bernard or even the film 'Withnail and I' will be privy to it's classic theme: Starving Artist, fantastic, ultimately unfulfilled promise, a diet of air and amphetamine, 62 hour writing jags, booze as fuel and stylistic prop..
As a biography, the Author's first, it's perhaps a little lacking in depth in places. The latter half especially sometimes seems to read as a list of accounts and figures, with little emotional resonance; On one Page Julian has a £108 advance from a publisher and moves into opulent hotel, able at last to focus on the 'Great novel'. By the next page he is skint again, sleeping rough. A £5 cheque from the TLS arrives, he moves into a bedsit. Money runs out, eviction is threatened.
A royalty payment from the BBC arrives just in time..he moves to another hotel..etc etc
Characters are also seemingly wheeled on, named, either insulted by and /or charmed by Julian and wheeled off again with little consequence; again, seemingly more so in the latter half of the book which seems at times to be rushing inexorably toward our hero's conclusion..
(As with any biography, as the remaining pages begin to thin, the reader senses Death hovering in the wings).
This could be partly down to a lack of material available.
Julian was it seems a shadowy figure, especially in the baliff haunted days of his later life. There are also very few photographs of him in existence. It's an odd contradiction that such an 'egotist' was so seemingly camera shy.
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Format: Paperback
This is a fascinating portrait of the dreadfully dissolute Maclaren-Ross, alas let down by the sort of shabby inattention to detail to which increasing numbers of publishers are prone.
The proof reading is ASTONISHINGLY shabby.
The odd split infinitive here and there is of course only likely to cause the most blinkered pedant to vent spleen, but when an ordinary reader like me feels the urge to deface a copy of a book, scribbling with apoplectic fury, teeth gnashing and brow furrowing, then there's something amiss. I think the moment I really got upset was when a character managed to change name three times within the space of two pages. This is frankly rotten work; Paul Willetts deserved to be better treated, for, despite all this, this is a splendid biography, as the other reviews will testify.
I would recommend this book wholeheartedly (as I do all of Maclaren-Ross's works, redolent as they are of the sort of mid-twentieth century despair, hopes dashed and opportunities missed which would appeal to any fan of authors like Patrick Hamilton) if and only if you don't have a twitchy blue pencil, tut at costermongers' signs, think it's all very well for the national Truss to pen that punctuation guide but really this sort of thing ought to have been taught in schools, and find yourself mumbling about falling standards as you stare at your pint in a tap-room filled with the din of juke boxes and slot machines, dreaming of the long lost glory days which, let's face it, never really existed. But enough. The pose of embittered fogey is an annoyance, I know.
Buy it, do, but bear in mind the old cry of caveat emptor.
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