eBook à The Unfortunates Hardcover Read Ò hannahredhead

mobi The Unfortunates

eBook à The Unfortunates Hardcover Read Ò hannahredhead ↠ A sports journalist sent to a Midlands town on a weekly assignment finds himself confronted by ghosts from the past when he disembarks at the railway station Memories of one of his best most trusted friends a tragically young victim of cancer begin to flooOf a novelist now undergoing an enormous revival of interest The Unfortunates is a book of passionate honesty and dark courageous humour a meditation on death and a celebration of friendship which also offers a remarkably frank self portrait of its auth A book that comes in a book shaped box Twenty seven sections one labelled ‘first’ one ‘last’ and the reader is free to choose the order in which they read the interceding 25 sections This isn’t a device for the sake of being tricksy but the author wants to replicate the random and unreliable nature that our memories workA writer and journalist is sent to cover a soccer match in a Midlands town As he steps off the train two hours ahead of kick off a host of memories rush into his head as this is a town chockfull of resonance for him He met one of his best friends who was at University here when he had travelled up for a collaboration on student newspapers His friend died of cancer at just 29 and the book is a series of chopped up recollections of the triangular friendship together with the man’s wife the narrator’s own love life the disease and the nature of writing itselfAs he makes his meandering progress to the football stadium via café butchers and pub he recalls time spent with his friends in various towns Sometimes the architecture eludes him as he can’t pinpoint which pub or café or sometimes the architecture itself has changed with progress Eually he struggles to pinpoint whether the man’s wife or whichever of his own female consorts was present in some recollected event or not As much as memory floods in on an emotional level in its caprice some of the details are denied him and they of course can inflect his emotional response to the memory It’s interesting that one section is him finally sat in the press box desultorily composing his report as the match proceeds limited by both the clichéd language of sports reporting which he’d like to burst out from plus the word limit of his column inches which pretty much predetermines what he can write even before the match kicks off and play takes what direction it will On the inside of the box his final match report is printed and reads very bland and lacking all the linguistic flourishes demonstrated throughout the rest of the bookThere were a couple of places where I didn’t feel the narrative conceit was consistent It was fortunate that the penultimate section I read happened to be him in the press box of the ground What would have happened if I’d happened to read that after the ‘first chapter’ the timing would have been way off This did happen when an early section I read had him on the final part of his walk up to the ground when later I read sections where he stopped off to buy some meat at a butchers Just seemed to me that the author could have got around these timing problems easily enough but just hadn’t noticed or triedAnd what of the overall effect of the narrative conceit My path through is in all likelihood going to be different from any other reader since their section choices will be different from mine I think it worked well for both the horrendous rise and fall of hope as the path of the friend’s cancer is traced and also that of memory’s fragmentedness too As Johnson has his protagonist comment “yes how the mind arranges itself tries to sort for things into orders is perturbed if things are not sorted are not in the right order nags away” This is by far the most interesting parts of the narrative as he struggles over whether it was his first visit to their house or whether he drove as his friend had not yet passed his driving test whether that was the occasion when he’d bought a certain book on architecture and so on And then in the light of his friend’s premature death does any of it matter anyway “My mind passes dully over the familiar ground of my prejudices so much of thought is repetition is dullness is sameness” Definitely an interesting read if not a gripping one since the subject matter is both mundane in the sense of what is being recalled and grim in respect of the disease If you’re interested in literary experimentation or trying to get to grips with a realistic mimesis of how the human mind works I’d say read this novel if however you are after an entertaining read for entertainment’s sakes then possibly not It certainly sparked my creative imagination and helped me resolve a project of my own that had become stalled The idea of a reader navigating their own path through a narrative and not a uest or treasure finding one is deliciously enticing

book ¸ The Unfortunates Ì B.S. Johnson

Lood through his mind as he attempts to go about the routine business of reporting a football matchB S Johnson’s famous ‘book in a box’ in which the chapters are presented unbound to be read in any order the reader chooses is one of the key works Yesterday I had a privilege few have I had this book read to me all around Nottingham as close to the venues described in the book as possible 27 people in character as Bryan were reading different chapters in different places The feeling of having to track them down following a map and go inside pubs cafes the City Council Broadway cinema a private house a parked car a hotel etc they all added to the story making this an incredible experience Thank you to Excavate and their community theatre group for their amazing effort and for proving that storytelling is for adults as well

B.S. Johnson Ì The Unfortunates kindle

The UnfortunatesA sports journalist sent to a Midlands town on a weekly assignment finds himself confronted by ghosts from the past when he disembarks at the railway station Memories of one of his best most trusted friends a tragically young victim of cancer begin to f Twenty minutes ago I had this review in the bag I had taken thorough notes had arranged them by topic and had even highlighted passages to uote And then B S Johnson the author of The Unfortunates dropped this bomb on me in the second to last paragraph“The difficulty is to understand without generalization to see each piece of received truth or generalization as true only if it is true for me solipsism again I come back to it again and for no other reason In general generalization is to lie to tell lies”That really puts a cramp in any attempt at review since to review is to generalize don’t you think And hey isn’t Johnson generalizing by saying that generalizations are lies So give me a second Let me take a few sips of my tea look over my notes one time and take a deep breath Allow me a minute to gather my thoughts and come back to this experimental and provocative text because my head is beginning to hurt in that way it does after reading post modernism Firstly there is not enough room on this coffee shop table for the book my computer my notes and the five highlighters it took to organize my thoughts into a rainbowed outline The act of reading this book is incredibly tactile You hold the individual chapters in your hand to read people passing stare at the thin pamphlets the man next to me looks up every time I put one section to the left and pick up the next on the right It’s an attention grabber with its box cover its 1 12 page sections and its gift like presentation I opened it for the first time and felt the need to take pictures of it like I did ten years ago when I got my first iPod This book is beautiful It consists of twenty seven chapters that are separately bound The first and last are marked and in place at the top and bottom of the pile of chapters but the remaining twenty five arrive in random order In his note to the reader Johnson encourages him to choose read the chapters in the order in which they arrive or rearrange them before beginning When I began reading I was sitting across from The Canadian in a bookstore She was struggling with formatting her novel and I was struggling with a novel that defied formatting“How do you think I should read it” I asked “What” She looked up She looked frantic and frustrated“The sections Do you think I should read them as they came to me or do you think I should mix them up”“Oh” She rested her chin in her hand and seemed for the first time in hours to be distracted from her task “I would read it in the order I received it”“Why”“Because I would like to think that I received the book in the order I was supposed to read it”This is why I love herIn the first chapter Johnson arrives in Nottingham to report on a football game He thinks he is traveling to a town that he has never been to before but setting food on solid ground is aware that he has spent a good deal of time in this town In fact he spent most of that time with his friend and colleague Tony who died some time ago from cancer And so begin the twenty five randomly arranged chapters that alternate between the present and the past between Johnson’s day in Nottingham and his memories of TonyI should mention here that the “novel” is entirely autobiographical Johnson was very vocal in his belief that fiction should be true Any novel that wasn’t absolutely true in his opinion was a lie and truth could not be conveyed with lies “How can you convey truth in a vehicle of fiction” he asked “The two terms truth and fiction are opposites and it must logically be impossible” Of course many if not most literary critics and creatives would disagree and argue that “truth” is too subtle to be achieved through the use of literal language and historical details I think Tim O’Brien said it best “A thing may happen and be a total lie; another thing may not happen and be truer than the truth” In the end Johnson’s insistence on absolute truth proved to be too restrictive “Johnson’s theory in effect a breathtaking insistence that all literature should reduce itself to the status of glorified memoir eventually proved too much of a straightjacket by the time of his last posthumously published novel See The Old Lady Decently he was reaching further and further back into his family history and the result has an air of strain and imprecision weariness even” from the introduction by Jonathan CoeIn the end I appreciated the order in which I received the book Somewhat divinely my arrangement of chapters ended with the final exchange between Tony and Johnson“the last thing I said to him all I had to give him alone with him with my coat on about to go the car waiting outside to run us to the station staring down at him facing those eyes he staring back all the time now it must have been a great effort for him yes and I said it was all I had what else could I do I said I’ll get it all down mate It’ll be very little he said after a while slowly still those eyes That’s all anyone has done very little I said”So how does one review a book that makes the argument that it is the sole truth of its author and therefore cannot be uestioned criticized or challenged Should I play into Johnson’s philosophy or push against it If you’ll allow me I think I’ll do bothThe book while literally about death loss and creativity concerns itself predominantly with the accidental and persistent nature of memory If the writing style suggests it the run on sentences the spaces on the page where the speaker’s thought process is interrupted and the lines that end mid sentence then the form enforces it You can’t help but read it randomly the memories coming without provocation occurring as arbitrarily as the order in which you receive the book I should be honest I had ulterior motives for this review after having read very little of the book I wanted this review to be a discussion about truth and memory selfishly they’re my favorite literary themes aside of course from sex I wanted this review to hotly contest Johnson’s perception of memory with a slew of uotes from van der Kolk and Freud I wanted this review to be a literary smack down After taking a class on narratives derived from traumatic memory I felt my chest puff out and my know it all ness preparing to reject Johnson’s version of how memory is experienced After having only read the introduction I found myself shouting angrily at the text “But memory isn’t random It is triggered by something in the present a smell a taste a lost memento rediscovered in the attic” Like Proust considering a tea soaked madeleine memory occurs when something in the present triggers something in the past It is not random It is not accidentalBut then I remembered something I remembered the night last summer that I spent with The Poet and the fragmented words I wrote the morning after I drove back to Bread Loaf after leaving him on the side of Route 7 and sat in my twin bed trying desperately to get everything down that I could remember Maybe I thought if I could remember everything from the night before I could make sense of what had happened I would know why he kissed me in the middle of the lake and why he fed me bites of his breakfast sandwich and why exactly he had begun to pull away on the couch as we listened to the sound of Lake Champlain moving like a tongue against the rocks Isn’t this what we feel fundamentally when we write We write to make sense of the world We use the imprecise art of words to describe what cannot otherwise be described What I wrote in my bed that day was entirely accidental The memories came to me randomly They repeated themselves They were out of order Remembering the silence that fell over us at the register while we paid for our lunch a sandwich that we split was interrupted by remembering how he had sat facing me on the bed in the morning and rubbed his big toe against mine as if to comfort me with as little contact as possible In that moment of remembering my own remembering my pretense dropped My know it all ness turned to the humble concession that what has been written and theorized about memory is not necessarily true for everyone Maybe most memory is triggered by the present but in the horrible aftermath of his friend’s death Johnson strove to memorialize his friend and to convey the process of his own remembering The danger of generalization that Johnson warns against in his last lines then is that it leaves no room for the uniue bordering on solipsistic and enigmatic ualities of human experience Just now something wonderful happened As I was holding the chapters loosely in my hand trying to leaf through the pages to find the last line of a section I loved the entire text fell onto the floor The first chapter slid across the granite tile Four others flipped upside down A thin chunk of chapters stayed together but the rest turned backwards and spun out of the order in which I had read them As I bent down to gather them up I realized that the book both palpably and intellectually resists analysis This difficulty in criticizing a work that is actively negating and deflecting criticism it seems is exactly what Johnson wanted