I bought this for a friend after hearing a biopic of Julian McLaren Ross on Radio 4. I haven't heard yet how enjoyable the book was but my friend was very enthusiastic about the book and looking forward to reading it.
Julian Maclaren-Ross perhaps was one of the most colourful, gifted and underappreciated writers of his time. More often than not, he was seen standing at the Wheatsheaf pub in Fitzrovia wearing a camel-hair coat with a malacca cane in hand, carnation buttonhole, mirrored sunglasses and cigarette holder; his presence was part gangster, part soho dandy. Maclaren-Ross knew and wrote about the other habitues of wartime Soho including Dylan Thomas, Graham Green, Cyril Connolly, Stephen Spender, John Minton and Nina Hamnett. He has been admired by writers as diverse as Evelyn Waugh, Olivia Manning, Anthony Powell (who modeled his character X Trapnel in A Dance to the Music of Time after him) and John Betjeman. Collected Memoirs offers all of Maclaren-Ross's autobiographical works including the acclaimed 'Memoirs of the Forties' and 'The Weeping and the Laughter' as well as several stories which have never appeared in book form. He writes in the so-called 'narrative journalistic' style that seems well ahead of its time. Paul Willetts, Maclaren-Ross's biographer, introduces Collected Memoirs with a thorough and vivid depiction of Maclaren-Ross and the world he inhabited.
Julian Maclaren-Ross was one of Soho and Fitzrovia's most gifted and overlooked writers. This is more than apparent in his Collected Memoirs, which offer all of his autobiographical works including several which have never appeared in book form. Paul Willetts, Maclaren-Ross's biographer, writes the introduction to Collected Memoirs, providing a well-rounded overview of the writer and the world he inhabited. The book also includes an index of names, places and events mentioned in his stories. Collected Memoirs is a wonderful composition of work from one of London's most talented and engaging writers. Maclaren-Ross's memoirs are as touching and nostalgic as they are dry and satirical and his relaxed, conversational style makes his work accessible to anyone.
Wonderful account of an interesting era and an interesting man. I can't believe this book isn't better known - it's an absolute classic. Highlights include tales of trying to sell vacuum cleaners door to door in a time of depression. Such joy to find an autobiographer who sees the comedy in misfortune and relishes in painting himself as an antihero. I salute him.