At 10:35 on an early summer's morning, John Lanchester sat down at his study desk, switched on his new Dell computer, opened up the word processing programme that the computer had come with and began

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Because I didn't want to clutter up the What Are You Reading thread with the way this book perpetually perks its folly in my face.

Fizzles, Friday, 9 March 2012 11:18 (eight years ago) link

On a rainy morning in early December, an 82-year-old woman sat in her front room at 42 Pepys Road, looking out at the street through a lace curtain. Her name was Petunia Howe...

Don't be absurd! Also, reader wonders whether she is distantly or even closely related to Geoffrey.

The proprietor of 51 Pepys Road, the house across the road from Petunia Howe's, was at work in the City of London. Roger Yount sat at his office desk at his bank, Pinker Lloyd, doing sums.

I hope you're already getting a sense of fatigue at the toiling rhythm and progress of his sentences, the way he leaves nothing to chance.

It was late afternoon. Roger sat on one of the sofas in his office,

Stop telling me the time of day.

Ahmed Kamal, who owned the shop (sorry thomp) at the end of Pepys Road, number 68, came awake 3.59 in the morning, one minute before his alarm was set to go off.

Please stop telling me the time of day. Also - came awake?

Shahid Kamal, who was due to work a shift at the family shop between eight o'clock in the morning and six o'clock in the evening, walked down the street at a brisk clip.

ffs

At number 51 Pepys Road, Mrs Arabella Yount...

At ten o'clock Shahid was stacking...

Two weeks before Christmas, Petunia sat...

I've reached Part 2. Things are going to start happening!

Fizzles, Friday, 9 March 2012 11:19 (eight years ago) link

You can't buy this sort of publicity. Will read (this thread).

Ismael Klata, Friday, 9 March 2012 11:23 (eight years ago) link

Didn't bring the book with me today, of course.

Fizzles, Friday, 9 March 2012 11:29 (eight years ago) link

I was on the verge of ordering this yesterday, will hold off on that one then.

Homosexual Satan Wasp (Matt DC), Friday, 9 March 2012 11:47 (eight years ago) link

Can tell you the characters of course.

You just have to insert ffs or 'oh god' after each one:

Petunia Howe - an octogenarian lady who notices how young people like doctors are etc.

Roger and Arabella Yount - a wealthy banker and his wife who likes shopping and spas and says 'dahling'.

Quentina Mkfesi BSc MSc - a Zimbabwean refugee (escaping political death squads), who can't be deported, and who has a job as a traffic warden.

'Bogdan' Zbigniew (can't remember his surname) - a Polish builder who is saving up money to give to his father back in Poland. He saves this money up by playing the stock market (??).

Ahmed, Usman, and Shahid. Brothers who collectively run a corner shop. Shahid has dabbled in terrorism, and a shady terrorist friend from his past has just appeared on the scene. Goes to a militant mosque in Brixton. Can't remember what Usman does.

Freddy Kamo(!) - Young African footballer with lanky legs (Lanchester is an Arsenal fan right?) who plays for a thinly disguised Chelsea. Always smiling. Stern father.

Smitty - a 'concept' artist, who leaves anonymous graffiti around the place, and who Lanchester somehow manages to get talking in a faux faux-Cockney/Mockney.

All of these behave exactly as you'd imagine they'd behave if you a) had no imagination b) got all your information from Sunday Supplements/daytime tv? apart from 'surprising' gestures towards 'civilised' or nuanced (ie white male) thinking.

Fizzles, Friday, 9 March 2012 11:49 (eight years ago) link

read you talking about this in the reading thread and am glad this hilarious spin-off exists

Nultified Ancients of Man U (Noodle Vague), Friday, 9 March 2012 11:53 (eight years ago) link

Why isn't there a racist taxi driver? I demand a racist taxi driver.

Homosexual Satan Wasp (Matt DC), Friday, 9 March 2012 11:53 (eight years ago) link

further comments from here, Matt. Just couldn't be bothered to cnp them all in.

Fizzles, Friday, 9 March 2012 11:54 (eight years ago) link

Ah, with Lanchester the 'racist taxi driver' would in fact be a surprisingly tolerant racist taxi driver who has a copy of the Economist on the front shelf of his taximetered cabriolet.

Fizzles, Friday, 9 March 2012 11:55 (eight years ago) link

Q. Is the problem with "state of the nation" novels usually that they are written by people far removed from most of the nation?

Nultified Ancients of Man U (Noodle Vague), Friday, 9 March 2012 11:56 (eight years ago) link

Q. I though Lanchester's steez was a kind of sub-Banville aestheticism. Wtf was he thinking?

Nultified Ancients of Man U (Noodle Vague), Friday, 9 March 2012 11:57 (eight years ago) link

A little surprised there are no media types, unless that's Smitty's role of course. There should also be a harassed woman juggling kids with running some sort of poorly-funded third-sector body.

Ismael Klata, Friday, 9 March 2012 11:58 (eight years ago) link

Must have fancied it after everyone loved Whoops!, I guess. Once you're thinking 'I get bankers, I've talked to a lot of bankers', and you've written abt London property, it must be p much irresistible to write a 'city of do-you-see contrasts' novel.

woof, Friday, 9 March 2012 12:12 (eight years ago) link

Also - came awake?

It's when someone has a nocturnal emission so violent that it wakes them up.
The cover of this book annoys me the way the cover of 'Cloud Atlas' does.

Is there any detailed exposition of what bankers actually do, other than having three computer screens? Ian McEwan, even if being tedious, would always have some of this to redeem it.

Ismael Klata, Friday, 9 March 2012 12:19 (eight years ago) link

xpost to NV.

thomp p much nailed The Debt to Pleasure on the what are you reading thread - 'debt to pleasure' = would maybe have like to have been nabokov when it grew up, narrator has poisoned some dudes, envies his brother's career as chef, is self-described gourmand, presents memoir of dudes he has poisoned as a series of menus. it's aight i guess.

Problems with this state of the nation novel, with a star by problems that I think are possibly generic pitfalls:

The characters attempt to be 'representative' and of course are pure ciphers and representative of nothing.*

Lanchester isn't very good, in fact is very very bad at filling his book with material.

The need to fill your book with situations that, again, are representative, makes it feel like satireless satire.*(unless its actual satire)

Capital is extraordinarily badly written on a sentence by toiling sentence basis, which makes me wonder whether he's even capable of doing the sub-Banville aestheticism, on any level.

Insights of daily life barely merit the name insight, apart from a couple of occasions where I said to myself 'yeah, I guess that's just about a thing'.

The interior monologues of the characters are utterly utterly dreadful, full of truly mundane material that should never be in a book. 'So and so looked at the Prius and its leather seats, he wished he could afford a Prius but in the meantime would continue to take the tubefghk;lsfb;hadfjghvflk;sxnhjnhj'

It is a book whose messages come as a clearly attached post-it at the beginning of each chapter. *(I guess - message novels have to stay on message, rather than let the imagination of the writer take them in places that are interesting or entertaining. You just feel like you're being shown things that you've read a thousand times before in longer-form journalism.)

What it reminds me of most is The Information by Martin Amis, which isn't an amazing book, but is world's classics status compared to Capital. Amis wouldn't call a bar 'Uprising' but he might do something similar, better, but similar. Likewise there are the shady figures, the underclasses, the outsider figures, presaging doom for the main power characters.

But MA was probably the best recent State of the Nation novelist? He was funny and he was a very good writer, which helped. Still easy to come a cropper, with the all CAPS text messaging in Yellow Dog for instance. And everything from The Information onwards has been increasingly flawed, and is probably a continuation of the things that made London Fields weaker than Money?

Any other candidates for good recent State of the Nation novelists? (Or any time - would George Eliot have counted? Probably?)]

Fizzles, Friday, 9 March 2012 12:21 (eight years ago) link

xp

His dad was some kind of banker iirc, & he does seem to have actual friends in the city, so you think it'd be his strong suit.

Feel like this is going to be a MAJOR NEW DRAMA on BBC1 at some point.

woof, Friday, 9 March 2012 12:22 (eight years ago) link

What a Carve Up? I remember it being good, but don't trust 90s me as a judge tbh. It also doesn't quite take the cross-section of society route iirc.

woof, Friday, 9 March 2012 12:24 (eight years ago) link

Amis also had a couple of Zbigniews in I think London Fields.

Ismael Klata, Friday, 9 March 2012 12:25 (eight years ago) link

McEwan's Saturday is clunky-as-hell but basically alright.

Ismael Klata, Friday, 9 March 2012 12:26 (eight years ago) link

Is there any detailed exposition of what bankers actually do, other than having three computer screens? Ian McEwan, even if being tedious, would always have some of this to redeem it.

― Ismael Klata, Friday, 9 March 2012 12:19 (2 minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

There isn't, perhaps surprisingly. There's some rather awkward handwaving towards types of trading, and bankery things, to indicate he knows what he's talking about (which he does), but it's kept at a minimum, I suspect because Lanchester feared (prob rightly) that going too much into it would a)be disproportionate b)reveal that he knows rather less about the working detail of everyone else.

I think a fictional account of a banker by Lanchester, or a group of bankers, would have been far more interesting than this 'terrorist', 'immigrant', 'old lady', 'young artist' media stereotype bollocks.

Things where you can tell Lanchester feels more comfortable:

Talking about football (this isn't good, but it doesn't feel RONG).
Bringing up small children (this isn't funny, but " " " ")

Fizzles, Friday, 9 March 2012 12:26 (eight years ago) link

er 'of a banker or a group of bankers by Lanchester' not 'by Lanchester or group of bankers' obv.

Fizzles, Friday, 9 March 2012 12:27 (eight years ago) link

xp

aesthetic saturday objections aside, I think a state-of-the-nation has to be significantly longer than that, 400pp minimum.

woof, Friday, 9 March 2012 12:28 (eight years ago) link

Heh, I like the idea of a group of bankers writing as Luther Blisset.

Ismael Klata, Friday, 9 March 2012 12:29 (eight years ago) link

is Hensher's Northern Clemency in this vein? Anyone read that?

woof, Friday, 9 March 2012 12:32 (eight years ago) link

Wasn't Amis' new book originally going to be called The State Of England? A better title than Lionel Asbo, anyway.

I enjoyed Theo Tait putting the boot into Ali Smith's last, vaguely S-o-E book: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v34/n02/theo-tait/the-absolute-end - doesn't happen often enough, presumably because of the very small world of London publishing. Read the kindle sample of the Lanchester and couldn't believe how slack it was, yet I haven't read a bad, or even mixed, review yet.

Stevie T, Friday, 9 March 2012 12:51 (eight years ago) link

Have the feeling this is going to belong on this thread soon:

http://fivedials.com/images/672.jpg

Stevie T, Friday, 9 March 2012 12:58 (eight years ago) link

private eye gave captial a stinky review, fwiw

x-post

― Ward Fowler, Thursday, 8 March 2012 14:25 (Yesterday) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Fizzles, Friday, 9 March 2012 13:05 (eight years ago) link

I am actually looking forward to Lionel Asbo.

woof, Friday, 9 March 2012 13:05 (eight years ago) link

xp

I also saw a mixed somewhere serious, but can't remember where.

woof, Friday, 9 March 2012 13:06 (eight years ago) link

How about a state-of-the-nation novel not set in London? Is there such a thing?

Ismael Klata, Friday, 9 March 2012 13:07 (eight years ago) link

oh, theo tait again, Guardian.

woof, Friday, 9 March 2012 13:07 (eight years ago) link

If the Northern Clemency is that sort of thing, it seems to be Sheffield-based. But I think most SoN-type novels would try to do London a bit maybe? At least have one character moving/working there?

woof, Friday, 9 March 2012 13:11 (eight years ago) link

Actually, I may be imagining it, but is there something of Adam Curtis's faux-humdrum tone to some of those opening sentences up top? Like how all his BBC blogs begin with sentences like "One September night in 1945 three British mathematicians and astronomers went to see a new film at a cinema in Cambridge". I can almost hear Curtis reading the one about Petunia Howe.

Stevie T, Friday, 9 March 2012 13:13 (eight years ago) link

i was a fan of What a Carve Up when i read it but when i've flicked through it since i thing i was mostly wrong, and the clumsiness i excused as Dickensian at the time just reads like clumsiness to me now.

interesting to think of Middlemarch as a state-of-the-nation novel because of course it's addressing "middle England" before the fact, at a time when it was far from central to English notions of England maybe?

Nultified Ancients of Man U (Noodle Vague), Friday, 9 March 2012 13:13 (eight years ago) link

iirc Lanchester has too many friends in the journalism trade to get many bad reviews?

Nultified Ancients of Man U (Noodle Vague), Friday, 9 March 2012 13:15 (eight years ago) link

Wasn't Amis' new book originally going to be called The State Of England? A better title than Lionel Asbo, anyway

Should have just gone the whole hog with 'I Hate The Fucking Proles'.

Homosexual Satan Wasp (Matt DC), Friday, 9 March 2012 13:38 (eight years ago) link

don't think he realises his dad was sometimes joking

Nultified Ancients of Man U (Noodle Vague), Friday, 9 March 2012 13:39 (eight years ago) link

I quite enjoyed that Ali Smith book as I was reading it but some of its sympathetic characters are more annoying than its unsympathetic characters and it descends into caricature rather a lot. Also it doesn't really go anywhere.

Homosexual Satan Wasp (Matt DC), Friday, 9 March 2012 13:40 (eight years ago) link

oh, theo tait again, Guardian.

― woof, Friday, 9 March 2012 13:07 (31 minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

"Actually it was a good sandwich," runs a typical sentence

Good job the review has forewarned me of this particular sentence, otherwise I might have hurled the book across the room.

Fizzles, Friday, 9 March 2012 13:44 (eight years ago) link

That review is spot on about the 'drone' of the prose. Also:

And there's a lot of slightly lazy repetition: "Parker, the boy she had been going out with ever since they kissed at a sixth-form dance on a hot June night back at sixth-form college."

This! Who on earth let this sort of thing through? It's like the weird repetition of the business about the skips and builders in the first chapter and the 'Transport for London card charging device'.

Fizzles, Friday, 9 March 2012 13:54 (eight years ago) link

There was an interview I skimmed through that did say L's dad was banker. But so what? Isn't part of the 'story' how the system almost took on a life of its own and no one really has any control/understanding?

Part of the reason why I never got round to Whoops! anyway was that all of a sudden this novelist that is never on your radar acquires an interest over these topical matters - except that in this case, as I've said, my impression is that even the so-called experts are no experts when it comes to the financial system, so what chance does this guy have? The other reason is that unemployed/laid-off bankers started writing a mountain of these so cynicism set in.

Related but separate thing is you have other novelists I think I'd hate - Geoff Dyer and Adam Mars-Jones writing bks on things I really like: on Stalker and Late Spring, whereas I would like to see these being written by film writers that would bring wider knowledge on Japanese and Russian cinema instead of what I think it would be (= too many boring personal reflections...its for the fans you know). Its depressing that this might be the only way for bks to get published on really interesting films/topics and this seems like the only way to get any shelf-space/coverage.

I guess they've done their 'research', ffs.

xyzzzz__, Friday, 9 March 2012 14:01 (eight years ago) link

'the system' took control -- this is SF material of course, fuck 'station of the nation' bullshit.

xyzzzz__, Friday, 9 March 2012 14:04 (eight years ago) link

otm.

Fizzles, Friday, 9 March 2012 14:05 (eight years ago) link

iirc Lanchester has too many friends in the journalism trade to get many bad reviews?

yes, I get the impression he's well-liked; also bad reviews aren't really done that much anymore (there was some fuss about this recently, maybe centred around that hatchet-job award?). The notable thing is how much attention it's getting - I got the impression that Lanchester was slipping into the terminal midlist zone before this, releasing also-reviewed, diminishing-returns novels every few years. Now he's a hit! I guess that's partly Whoops!, partly a canny topic, partly a very quiet literary spring in the uk, partly book-page need to have some literary middle-aged men to take seriously.

woof, Friday, 9 March 2012 14:18 (eight years ago) link

Actually, I may be imagining it, but is there something of Adam Curtis's faux-humdrum tone to some of those opening sentences up top? Like how all his BBC blogs begin with sentences like "One September night in 1945 three British mathematicians and astronomers went to see a new film at a cinema in Cambridge". I can almost hear Curtis reading the one about Petunia Howe.

― Stevie T, Friday, 9 March 2012 13:13 (56 minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

there is a little bit. But I think the thing that annoys me about these specific sentences is the way he smuggles in other information. The 'brisk clip', and another one where after the usual time and season bollocks, Lanchester puts in a 'slightly out of breath'. I wouldn't mind so much if it was as formulaic as Adam Curtis' 'I'm going to tell you the story of x. It's a remarkable story that involves x,y,z,π and ك'.'

Fizzles, Friday, 9 March 2012 14:23 (eight years ago) link

Idk, should this be changed into a 'State of the Nation' novel thread? Change title one of these maybe?

'Actually it was a good sandwich' - State of the Nation novels and what is in them

'fuck 'station of the nation' bullshit'

'I am actually looking forward to Lionel Asbo'

'Why isn't there a racist taxi driver? I demand a racist taxi driver'

'I also saw a mixed somewhere serious'

'i'm assuming the copies i saw in waterstones were some britain-wide conspiracy'

'wonky textspeak'

' I guess it looks like what broadsheet journalism likes to believe novels are'

Fizzles, Friday, 9 March 2012 14:44 (eight years ago) link

ah, 'I also saw a mixed review somewhere serious'.

Fizzles, Friday, 9 March 2012 14:44 (eight years ago) link

I dunno, enjoying the title as it stands, above all "that the computer had come with"

woof, Friday, 9 March 2012 14:53 (eight years ago) link

there’s several things here.
* ghost stories are finally and stylistically quite demanding
* your story has to tacitly be aware of/acknowledge/comprehend the aggregated history of ghost stories
* you need to understand where ghosts live in the contemporary material world - what’s their environmental niche

2 + 3 there transact with each other - the classic environmental niche for the ghosts in English ghost stories is v heavily determined by the Victorian settings - the channels and conduits you set up to manage that are crucial. (and of course it needn’t be UK ghost stories).

i suppose that’s nothing more than saying you need to be able to manage genre without falling into pastiche or hamfisted smushing together of common tropes (lanchester will do both of these things)

he’s also conspicuously bad at depicting the material world, constructing it, understanding it, so how he’ll be able to spot where ghosts live in the contemporary world, and construct an immaterial word to go along with the material is terrifying to consider.

this is going to be straight up garbage.

(that lrb story will be a good example - graft some bad modern world signifiers (the podcast app he had downloaded onto his mobile device) and graft it onto some badly realised old ghost story template, and write it badly)

Fizzles, Wednesday, 15 July 2020 18:02 (two months ago) link

“These are stories of selfie sticks with demonic powers”

fu lanchester.

Fizzles, Wednesday, 15 July 2020 18:04 (two months ago) link

gigantic pile-up of the mundane and mistake it for social realism

otmfm

Fizzles, Wednesday, 15 July 2020 18:06 (two months ago) link

Is that selfie stick quote real?

Mein Skampf (Noodle Vague), Wednesday, 15 July 2020 18:15 (two months ago) link

Is that selfie stick quote real?


https://www.faber.co.uk/blog/faber-announces-a-chilling-new-collection-of-stories-from-john-lanchester/

Lanchester’s first book of shorter fiction is a gathering of modern ghost stories and uncanny contemporary tales. Alex Bowler said: ‘These are stories of selfie sticks with demonic powers, of cold calls from the dead, and of that creeping suspicion, as you sit there with your flat white, that none of this is real. Reality, and Other Stories is a collection of deliciously chilling entertainments, to be read as the evenings draw in and the days are haunted by all the ghastly schlock, uncanny technologies and unsettling weirdness of modern life.’

Fizzles, Wednesday, 15 July 2020 18:17 (two months ago) link

God this is gonna be funny

Mein Skampf (Noodle Vague), Wednesday, 15 July 2020 18:18 (two months ago) link

tbf the topping up card device machine in capital was unsettlingly weird.

Fizzles, Wednesday, 15 July 2020 18:18 (two months ago) link

a haunted selfie stick. oh man I need to read this shit

doorstep jetski (dog latin), Wednesday, 15 July 2020 18:32 (two months ago) link

As he stared languidly out the window of the bendy-bus, John remarked to himself how he had never previously noticed a disembodied voice murmuring 'Get In the Sea' halfway through his lovingly-crafted 'Greatest Dabbing Anthems' playlist...

doorstep jetski (dog latin), Wednesday, 15 July 2020 18:38 (two months ago) link

"as you sit there with your flat white"

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 16 July 2020 10:03 (two months ago) link

sipping your croissant

Li'l Brexit (Tracer Hand), Thursday, 16 July 2020 10:13 (two months ago) link

Right, this should probably result in my being thrown down a well (as he fell, his mind noticed the bricks were different colours and he reached for his phone and the camera app he used to record the things he noticed...) but.

I pretty much re-read this whole thread last night and as I was falling asleep I had a pretty detailed recollection of being on a bus in Perth, reading Beckett's 'Dante and the Lobster' from an Evergreen Review collection I'd found in a hostel. In the grip of hypnagogic fancy, I remembered the mundanity and the odd rhythms and somehow it all made sense: Beckett and Lanchester. I've looked at the opening this morning and, god help me, there is something in there. I leave this here as possibly my last will and testament.

He leaned back in his chair to feel his mind subside and the itch of this mean quodlibet die down. Nothing could be done until his mind got better and was still, which gradually it did and was. Then he ventured to consider what he had to do next. There was always something that one had to do next. Three large obligations presented themselves. First lunch, then the lobster, then the Italian lesson. That would do to be going on with. After the Italian lesson he had no very clear idea. No doubt some niggling curriculum had been drawn up by someone for the late afternoon and evening, but he did not know what. In any case it did not matter. What did matter was: one, lunch; two, the lobster; three, the Italian lesson. That was more than enough to be going on with.

Editors notes: Chinaski is now my patient. He wanders the halls of the institute, belching 'quodlibet!' at anyone who will listen. Nothing can be done with him until his mind gets better.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Thursday, 16 July 2020 10:34 (two months ago) link

No doubt some niggling curriculum had been drawn up by someone for the late afternoon and evening

'someone' = Lanchester

given the symbology I'm pretty sure that makes Lanchester literally the devil iirc

Li'l Brexit (Tracer Hand), Thursday, 16 July 2020 10:40 (two months ago) link

I reread this thread as well last night and, having read subsequent Angela Carter novels, I now understand what the Pinefox was getting at about the onset of hackiness in her prose. I'm sure her earliest novels weren't as badly written as 'Heroes and Villains' was.

Matt DC, Thursday, 16 July 2020 10:42 (two months ago) link

That's nice to hear!

the pinefox, Thursday, 16 July 2020 11:30 (two months ago) link

Right, this should probably result in my being thrown down a well (as he fell, his mind noticed the bricks were different colours and he reached for his phone and the camera app he used to record the things he noticed...) but.

I pretty much re-read this whole thread last night and as I was falling asleep I had a pretty detailed recollection of being on a bus in Perth, reading Beckett's 'Dante and the Lobster' from an Evergreen Review collection I'd found in a hostel. In the grip of hypnagogic fancy, I remembered the mundanity and the odd rhythms and somehow it all made sense: Beckett and Lanchester. I've looked at the opening this morning and, god help me, there is /something in there/. I leave this here as possibly my last will and testament.

_He leaned back in his chair to feel his mind subside and the itch of this mean quodlibet die down. Nothing could be done until his mind got better and was still, which gradually it did and was. Then he ventured to consider what he had to do next. There was always something that one had to do next. Three large obligations presented themselves. First lunch, then the lobster, then the Italian lesson. That would do to be going on with. After the Italian lesson he had no very clear idea. No doubt some niggling curriculum had been drawn up by someone for the late afternoon and evening, but he did not know what. In any case it did not matter. What did matter was: one, lunch; two, the lobster; three, the Italian lesson. That was more than enough to be going on with._


Editors notes: Chinaski is now my patient. He wanders the halls of the institute, belching 'quodlibet!' at anyone who will listen. Nothing can be done with him until his mind gets better.


i think this is fair but wrong (because it’s fair). it’s fair because the cadences are the same. and i think there is an open question for me whether the cadences of Lanchester are intended and intended to reference the quotidian mundane, or possibly even Beckett (I think Nicholson Baker was referenced upthread).

there is nothing, no list as good in all of lanchester and al possible worlds of lanchester as “What did matter was: one, lunch; two, the lobster; three, the Italian lesson.”

the positioning of objects against each other, the chewy rather delightful tension of the sounds, the alliteration of L suggesting poetry, the resolute variation in the vowels suggesting the prosaic, the implied non-connected connectedness of the objects.

given lanchester’s sentence by sentence organising principles are totally dysfunctional i don’t think he’s barely capable of doing the basics of a list. his understanding of the interrelation of objects of the world, his ontology if you like, is just totally fucked. he writes prose about the world like he’s driving a dodgem.

so the cadences may be similar, *may* even be intended (sceptical side-eye), but his brane is too borked to make it work. his word order is irretrievably bad as well and often works against his meaning (like more often works against it, or implies something radically different, than it is just confusing - if that’s intended and he’s implying a consistent parallel universe of plural interpretations then yes he’s a genius)

Fizzles, Thursday, 16 July 2020 17:01 (two months ago) link

was good you posted that chinaski, because i do think the important thing to bear in mind when reading or about to read lanchester is “hey this might be good” or “maybe i’m just not seeing what makes him good”. it makes it all the better when you gradually have to admit to yourself that despite your tolerance and forced withholding of judgment you are finally forced to admit to yourself no really this is very bad.

Fizzles, Thursday, 16 July 2020 17:04 (two months ago) link

"as you sit there with your flat white"


yes this is how i read lanchester lol

Fizzles, Thursday, 16 July 2020 17:05 (two months ago) link

it heartens me that we're all routinely reading this entire thread

mark s, Thursday, 16 July 2020 17:21 (two months ago) link

it's Lanchester's most important contribution to literature tbf

À la recherche du scamps perdu (Noodle Vague), Thursday, 16 July 2020 17:26 (two months ago) link

I would like to state that I meant no harm to Beckett in that comparison! It was more looking for a lineage - something that Lanchester might have read and seized on as a 'style'. A style that he eviscerated, left dead for years and then bunged in the microwave when the time came. We are left to marvel at his excreta; indeed we are his avid, attentive grooms of the stool.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Thursday, 16 July 2020 19:58 (two months ago) link

Without rereading his long-ago first novel, The Debt to Pleasure (which I remember really liking!), memory tells me it was deeply in debt to Nabokov, especially his erudite psychopath narrators like Humbert Humbert.

Tsar Bombadil (James Morrison), Friday, 17 July 2020 04:00 (two months ago) link

Yes, likewise read and enjoyed it years ago, and Nabokov was the obvious model.

Fizzles, Friday, 17 July 2020 06:01 (two months ago) link

tho as you say, Nabokov as mendacious, self-obsessed narrator rather than, say, his aesthetic games or specific approaches to language.

Fizzles, Friday, 17 July 2020 06:02 (two months ago) link

I also enjoyed The Debt To Pleasure (the recipes are good too), but as Nabokov pastiches go, Updike's A Month of Sundays is better and was done 25 years earlier.

fetter, Tuesday, 21 July 2020 14:59 (two months ago) link

I am now reading Lanchester on Maigret. It's not devoid of any insight or knowledge, but it comes out with the daft things quoted upthread, and it's blokeish tone is quite obnoxious.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 21 July 2020 18:01 (two months ago) link

it's quite a lot better than his christie piece and is also not consistent with it in terms of stated assumptions

mark s, Tuesday, 21 July 2020 18:05 (two months ago) link

one month passes...

So this guerilla advert for Lanchester's new novel is making the rounds...

omg they are gagging for us to return back to the office. “second family”? pic.twitter.com/udntfSVXSh

— mi🌿 (@helloalegria) September 2, 2020

doorstep jetski (dog latin), Thursday, 3 September 2020 10:42 (two weeks ago) link

fvck, this has reminded me of his forthcmoing "horror" collection -- is it out yet?

'Rău!' she said, shouting, pointing at my phone and then at the grave. 'Rău, rău, rău!'

mark s, Thursday, 3 September 2020 11:25 (two weeks ago) link

That never fails to crack me up. Should be serified by the beeb just for that scene.

Monte Scampino (Le Bateau Ivre), Thursday, 3 September 2020 11:41 (two weeks ago) link

I'm halfway through Lanchester on ESPORTS.

https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v42/n16/john-lanchester/diary

the pinefox, Sunday, 6 September 2020 13:13 (two weeks ago) link

well that's just averagely banal. no choice lanchester in there at all.

the ghost of tom, choad (thomp), Sunday, 6 September 2020 13:50 (two weeks ago) link

oh gosh i hadn't been keeping up on this thread and the cover for his ghost story collection is just too good

the ghost of tom, choad (thomp), Sunday, 6 September 2020 13:57 (two weeks ago) link

The thing I didn't understand about ESPORTS was that the 'esports' seemed to be games, not sports.

I thought an esport would be more like when you swing a tennis racket and something happens to the tennis ball on screen, so you get fitter.

But it seems to be more like WARHAMMER ONLINE or something. Which might be fun but is definitely not sport. Unless all those afternoons playing JUDGE DREDD: THE ROLE PLAYING GAME and eating Monster Munch were sport for me.

Yet Lanchester keeps comparing esports to sports - his whole framing is about cricket and so on - so he does seem to think of them that way.

the pinefox, Monday, 7 September 2020 09:37 (two weeks ago) link

Well he's writing as a spectator not a competitor, it seems a legitimate comparison. Snooker and darts are infamously less physically demanding than outdoor sports, how do you categorise them?

neith moon (ledge), Monday, 7 September 2020 09:51 (two weeks ago) link

The difference between esports and yer Judge Dread sessions is there's ppl making quite a lot of money from playing these games within a competitive setting and huge audiences following their moves. Including, like, ppl booking seats at arenas to watch (not so much right now ofc). So I think the analogy is fine.

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 7 September 2020 10:05 (two weeks ago) link

yes ESPORTS is the commercial name --

hazel one of this parish (she says just a single post lol) just became editor of an esports magazine -- which is admittedly confusing bcz her main recent stream of income has been writing abt formula e, which is a e-based sport that isn't an esport (you met her at the royal oak pinefox)

mark s, Monday, 7 September 2020 10:21 (two weeks ago) link

one = once

mark s, Monday, 7 September 2020 10:26 (two weeks ago) link

Mark, yes, I believe that she has told me about her racing car activities.

My confusion re 'esports' was purely re the presence of the word 'sports' in the name, if they mostly don't resemble sports.

It did not otherwise indicate any scepticism about the quality, profitability, importance, interest, etc, of esports.

Chess would be another point of comparison. Chess has audiences (eg online), competition, etc, but we don't call it a sport.

Lanchester turned out not to like esports anyway.

the pinefox, Monday, 7 September 2020 16:28 (two weeks ago) link

I was thinking I had heard John lanchester's name before theis weekend.
He did a First Thoughts talk with Fintan O'Toole in teh Arts Festival here on Saturday.

Stevolende, Monday, 7 September 2020 18:08 (two weeks ago) link

lanchester ghost stories not due out till oct 1 -- where shd i pitch my review at, thread-readers? where will a takedown sit well?

(i mean lol the lrb obv but that's not going to happen and anyway i have them under seige for less entirely fvck-you stuff currently)

mark s, Monday, 14 September 2020 10:48 (one week ago) link

lol the Graun
lol Fortean Times

how do i shot moon? (Noodle Vague), Monday, 14 September 2020 10:50 (one week ago) link

LITERARY REVIEW but they'll already have it lined up. I find that these things need to be done well in advance (ie: I have always failed).

the pinefox, Monday, 14 September 2020 11:08 (one week ago) link

true yes -- and i had the notion an age ago but was just too super-busy and otherwise under heavy manners to follow it up till this recent thread revive >:(

maybe i shd return to my other current project: "forty years of being terrible at freelancing: musings and persiflage"

mark s, Monday, 14 September 2020 11:19 (one week ago) link

haha do ppl still say "under heavy manners", feels like that might date me

mark s, Monday, 14 September 2020 11:26 (one week ago) link

Lol I still say that even knowingly incomprehensibly

how do i shot moon? (Noodle Vague), Monday, 14 September 2020 14:40 (one week ago) link

It's such a great phrase. Too good to die.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Monday, 14 September 2020 15:33 (one week ago) link

And I think go high, aim for the heart of the republic and pitch to the FT.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Monday, 14 September 2020 15:35 (one week ago) link

Or The Spectator!

Ward Fowler, Monday, 14 September 2020 15:51 (one week ago) link

ts: publishing an amusing demolition of the very liberal JL in fash weekly vs losing the respect of my friends on ilx :D

mark s, Monday, 14 September 2020 16:52 (one week ago) link


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