Omnibus: Albert Angelo, House Mother Normal & Trawl (3 titles) Paperback – 4 Jun 2004
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About the Author
B S Johnson was an experimental novelist, an admirer Joyce of Joyce and Beckett, and his works combine verbal inventiveness with typographical innovations. He was just 4o when he died.
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Top Customer Reviews
'Albert Angelo' is a good introduction to Johnson, with a few quirks but a fairly straightforward storyline. The section that juxtaposes our narrator's thoughts with his words is very well done, and the cut-out (contrary to the other reviewer here, it seemed in the right place to me - but of course I've not seen any other editions) works a treat. The ending is, well, read it yourself...
'Trawl' was in my opinion the least-compelling of the three here. Not bad, mind you, but I just found less interesting either in content or form than the two either side. Still worth reading, though, for some lovely writing.
'House Mother Normal' is an astonishing idea - the same night at an old people's home, told by seven residents (in descending order of lucidity) and the house mother. Each of the eight characters is allocated 21 pages, all of which match up with the other seven chapters - so when two characters are conversing, you read one character's thoughts & dialogue in one chapter, and the corresponding responses in another - all typeset on the page to show where they're each speaking.Read more ›
Albert - despite the title of the book it's never clear if that's his forename or surname or both - is an architect in the same way that Dawn from The Office is a children's illustrator. At 28 years old, he is making ends meet while he designs buildings ("Sounds a bit useless to me, mate. What's the use of designing buildings if no-one's ever going to build them?") by working as a supply teacher in a series of rough London schools - in his current stint he is replacing a teacher who committed suicide. The book describes a series of toiling lessons at the school, where the emphasis is more on crowd control than filling young minds with golden nuggets of knowledge, while Albert dwells on his lost love, Jenny (Johnson in an authorial intervention tells us later: "a name I rather like even though I intended it originally to be involved in a rather coarse pun, Jenny Taylor, Jenny Taylor") and the one happy memory he has of her, of a holiday in the west of Ireland.
And that's it. On page 167 Johnson breaks in: "f*** all this lying look what im really trying to write about is writing ... Im trying to say something not tell a story telling stories is telling lies and I want to tell the truth about me about my experience about my truth about my truth to reality about sitting here writing" and gives us about 10 pages of this before tying up the plot of the novel, such as it is, with a nasty, brutal and short coda.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you want to be familiar with the latest form of literature then these books are a must. Brian was a friend of mine for some years but we never spoke about our respective... Read morePublished on 31 Aug. 2010 by Lord Of Overhall