Tuesday, 25 June 2013

The Happiest of Time Travel

'Recollection of our past together is the happiest of time travel' - Richard 


That quote from the beginning of his novel 'Somewhere in Time' would have been relevant yesterday, following news of its author's death. It's much more relevant today, when I've had news of the sudden death of a very old friend of mine. That news i'm still trying to process.

Tonight I was planning to watch 'Somewhere in Time' or maybe 'Legend of Hell House.' Maybe even looking out an episode or two of The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits that Matheson wrote. Something light-hearted, maybe, in remembrance of a great writer of twisty mysteries.

For the more personal loss I'm planning to listen to Marc Bolan, the Cure. Music like that, and to think about when we were all thirteen.

On my blog today I was going to write about my recent reading. You can see the books in the pictures above. I didn't have masses to say about Helen Dunmore, or Kathleen MacMahon or Hannah Richell. They were all pretty entertaining. Maybe, after spending a few weeks reading WH Smith / Richard and Judy - promoted novels I'm going past my point of tolerance for these very glossy and smooth books? They've been groomed and titivated like show pets, some of these books - and in the case of the debut novelists, I think they've been robbed of some of their vitality in the process.  (But so what? a cynical voice at the back of my mind asks... They'll sell shitloads anyway. Especially if they're easy-to-read. What do I know anyway..?!) I *did* like the soapiness and slight trashiness of 'Secrets of the Tides' - but I'm tired of novels with extremely rich characters at the centre of the action - which was true or this one, and 'This is How it Ends.' But maybe that's just a taste thing..?  The Dunmore ghost story was fun - but again, so slick and well-mannered that it had next to no shocks... and it suffered from being a bit too tasteful. I kept thinking - this is Hammer, for goodness' sake! It was all quite decorous and calm... and put me in mind of those Marks & Spencer's food adverts. ('This isn't just any old ghost story... it's a Marks and Spencers' ghost story...')

My big find came from Longsight library last week - and I just read it overnight. Sebastian Stuart's 'The Hour Between', which is a few years' old and published by Alyson press in the US - but not here. Somehow a lone copy found its way to Longsight and I'm very glad it did. In a way it's exactly the book i've been looking for without knowing it. It's a gay coming of age story, in America of the late 60s - with kids in a crazy school where they are just allowed to run riot. It's about the friendship between the narrator and his best girlfriend - the daughter of a movie star and a girl heading for tragedy and / or stardom herself. It's all written with such a smooth, charming lightness of touch. It's hilarious and tender and tragic - with cameos from Andy Warhol and Roddy McDowell and such a thickly colourful, tangible atmosphere of dizzy, naive Sixties idealism that you could put it in a bucket and use it for tie-dye. It's one of those books that was so good I was hardly aware that I was reading.

And it wasn't pushed by anyone. It wasn't in an offer - three books for 12 pounds! Or blagged about on official websites or blogged about by breathless fans. It was just *there*. Unassumingly waiting in the stacks and being quietly divine.

I was delighted to learn - after a little online looking about - that Sebastian Stuart has written some murder mysteries, too - and a tie-in novel for a soap opera!

Just go and find 'The Hour Between.' If I was going to start a Book Club of my own and exhort everyone to join in - this would be the first book I'd recommend whole-heartedly to you all. It's like Liza in 'Cabaret' meets 'The Magicians' with a whole lot of 'Catcher in the Rye' - but gay, gay, gay and just bliss.

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