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 An Embarrassingly Laudatory Review

W E E K  T H I R T E E N

26 March 1997
An Embarrassingly Laudatory Review
Bright Spark of modernism

David glenn rinehart's achievement has been to genuinely innovate and extend the possibilities of the form.

he has dominated writers like Kingsley Amis, John Wain, John Braine, Alan Sillitoe and CP Snow. This fiction had its merits, not least in reflecting and raising consciousness about social change, but it was limited in vision and unadventurous in form, consciously rejecting the experimentalism of writers like James Joyce and Virginia Woolf. It did not contain much potential for change and development.

The artistic effort to innovate without merely imitating the techniques of modernism is generally called art, though the critics, in a spiritual and psychological crisis; keep hearing a phantom typewriter tapping out sentences that describe actions of self-reference to the processes of art strategy.

rinehart was one of the first modern artists that tests rather than reassures.

he is in arrogant control and he shows us this scene, then that scene; he whisks us backwards and forwards in time with breathtaking abruptness; he makes startling declarative pronouncements about art which challenge our moral and metaphysical assumptions.

This omniscient narrator works in mysterious and paradoxical ways. He said: "I didn't get my style until I just had security for that. That's the whole secret of style, not too much."

This would not be good advice for every writer. But it usefully points to the risk-taking readiness to take chances with both form and content which makes it so exhilarating--and so liberating for others.

he boldly mixed the supernatural with the quotidian in learned realism. No one has used tense narration and the technique of staying on the surface, concealing the thoughts and motives of the characters to better effect than he did.

rinehart is the prime example and a bomb-damaged don--with a few telling details. he has never been content just to settle into a formula different in ways which could not have been predicted. Who else could have conceived of writing in a community of nuns, as he did in Crewe?.

on Wednesday, he said: "As for no self, though it is often pronounced dead, I am convinced that it is very alive. So long as experiments in pose continue, so do invention and imagination." No writer has done more to ensure the continuing vitality of art.

--The Guardian Saturday March 22 1997

This piece is also available in PDF format, although the technical bits may be a bit complex.

27 March 1997
This Canoodling Thing
Another right-wing member of parliament is in trouble again. It seems he was photographed in the intimate company of a seventeen year old "night club hostess," a seventeen year old night club hostess who is not his wife and not the mother of his two children, "all of whom he adores." (Especially the seventeen year old night club hostess, it would appear.)

This story isn't unusual, it seems to happen with amazing regularity. In a day or two the pictures in the paper will show him together with his loving and supportive wife, who will stand loyally by his side until she can eviscerate him when they're alone. It happens all the time.

No, what's unusual about this story is that a radio journalist said he'd seen photographs showing the politician "canoodling" with the seventeen year old night club hostess. Since the journalist seemed morally indignant at the prospect of canoodling, it must be fun. I like canoes and noodles; I must investigate this canoodling thing.

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28 March 1997
RAM in my pocket
I've got 224 kilobytes of random access memory in my pocket. (I used to have 256 kilobytes, but one of the chips fell off the memory module.) I also have nine coins, half a dozen keys on a key ring, a tooth (human) and a carabiner. (You never know when you'll need a carabiner.)

I was half-listening to a radio program in which a psychiatrist--or was it a psychologist?--was making some sort of correlation between the contents of men's pockets and something to do with penises. I turned it off; she obviously didn't know what she was talking about.

29 March 1997
Turkey in the Toilet
I almost vomited when I opened the bathroom door; it looked like someone else already had.

I was at a party, and someone had filled the toilet bowl with the remains of a butchered turkey. Bones, coagulated blood, feathers, cartilage and various internal organs were piled so high that the bowl couldn't contain them. One of the bird's severed feet was on the floor; it appeared to have been burned off. A lot of the rancid remains were also charred, as if someone had tried to remove the feathers by burning them off.

It didn't make any sense. Who could imagine they would be able to flush the remains of a turkey down a toilet? There wasn't even any turkey at the party.

30 March 1997
Shoes or Bed
"You spend your whole life in shoes or in bed."

Allen told me he'd heard this truism many years ago in a radio interview with one of the satisfied poor people that government officials always trot out around election time. The cheerful woman said she actually led a wonderful life in spite of her poverty because she'd always been able to afford good shoes and a good bed, "and you're always in your shoes or in bed."

Allen decided a good bed wasn't good enough, he wanted a productive place to sleep. Allen surrounded his bed with a hot plate, a reading lamp, a wall of towering cabinets filled with books, a rack of stereo equipment, headphones, a computer, a dirty coffee cup, a teetering stack of magazines, records and tapes, a space heater, a mirror, several candles, a telephone, another computer, a half-full (half empty?) wine rack, a small refrigerator, and a cracked mug filled with a variety of pens, most of which didn't work. The whole area was covered with a silk cargo parachute draped loosely from the ceiling.

When I asked Allen about his approach to interior design, he replied "going to sleep should always be the last thing one does after going to bed."

31 March 1997
Unbelievable Story
The most incredible thing just happened, but I can't tell anyone. It's almost midnight, so by the time I speak with anyone it will be tomorrow, when no one will believe me because it will then be April Fool's Day.

So it goes.

1 April 1997
April Fool's Day
Today is April Fool's Day. Every day is April Fool's Day. Life is good.

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©1997 David Glenn Rinehart