Saturday, 18 October 2008

Fat Tuesday

Had my first swim this side of winter in the Southern Ocean this morning. It was a tad fresh. Not as warm as the Coral Sea, but clearer.

The first swim is always a baptism. Makes me feel summer is on its glorious way. Long days, warm nights.

Fat Tuesday arrived by post last Friday and I finished it yesterday. I'm not a fast reader, so that's the best sign. Have been looking forward to getting my mitts on this book every since I struck up a friendship with Gary Davison over at PaperBooks. We've travelled parallel journeys towards seeing our books in print -- enjoying similar high points and hiccoughs -- with our publication dates alternating two or three times along the way, to say nothing of the advice and book recommendations we've bounced back and forth.

I've always loved Chris Gooch's cover design for this book (it reminds me of Skinhead and Suedehead, which I read as a young teenager), and it certainly picks up on some of the elements from the story: the montage of a knife, a fight, an Australian beach, eccies, marijuana, a couple sucking face, all set against the top half of a young bloke's closely-shaved head. Nice font too.

Anyway, if you like your story to be action-packed and fast-paced, with a liberal sprinkling of sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll -- well, all sorts of music really -- then you should give this a try. I liked picking the nuances of Spencer Hargreaves' Geordie vernacular in the narrative and the fact that I felt I was being delivered a good yarn from start to end. Particularly liked the middle section, which lends itself to the title of the book: the description of the Fat Tuesday festival at Marasa Bay and the craziness of the world which the characters get thrown into there. The vitality of the writing reflects the festival atmosphere superbly.

Well worth a read, and available from book shops in the UK, from PaperBooks or Amazon. Good on yer, Gary.


gary davison said...

cheers, Paul. First online review and not a bad one at all. This isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea, so I'm pretty much buckled in and ready for whatever review comes my way. I expect you are the same. Here's to me and thee: we're out there and giving it a shot!

Paul said...

Defintely, Gary. I'll raise my glass to that!

Mike French said...

Great review Paul - and hope the book is going well Gary! I wonder what other parts of the world it has washed up on?

Swubird said...


Summer is there, eh? Enjoy, because it goes by far too quickly.

Interesting book report. Plus, the title of the book is catchy.

happy trails.

Paul said...

Thanks, Mike and Swubird. Yep, summer's on its way, although it being a Victorian spring, we swing from 33 centigrade to 16 and back to 33 again from one day to the next. Wouldn't be in the water today, unless I wanted to turn into a popsicle!

the Amateur Book Blogger said...

Paul - must add this to my ever wobbling stack.

Guess what I read to and from Frankfurt? Finally had peace to read TS&GOTP - really enjoyed it.

Paul said...

Thanks, ABB. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. And thanks for the tremendous review on Facebook's Visual Bookshelf, at Amazon.co.uk and across at your blog. Your reading reflects what I hope readers will get out of 'The Snowing and Greening of Thomas Passmore'. A fine review indeed. 8~)

mrs a said...

Hello again. This is just to say that my Mum is tremendously enjoying S&G. She says it puts into words things you'd like to say yourself. Her example being that recently she was at a fair in Oxfordshire and someone was pouring scorn on the morris dancing...When she got home she came across your passage about the mummers and read it about 4 times over, and said she just wished she could say it all to the morris basher.
My question is though, working on the assumption (which may be wrong of course) that you feel as strongly connected to the past in England as TP, how do you cope with living in a totally different place with a differet history, an alien culture? Do you feel something is missing, or is it not an issue?

Paul said...

That’s a good question, Mrs A, and I’ve drafted a number of different responses in trying to find a short(ish) answer. Whilst, when living in Britain, I always felt a close attachment to its cultural and historical development – particularly those aspects which reflected its rural and elemental rhythms – it became increasingly difficult during the eighties not to feel that this was becoming somehow reduced. Constantly reduced and less accessible in all sorts of ways. The political imperatives of the day certainly would have had something to do with this. So, in a sense, it was easier to leave it behind and ‘start again’ than continue feeling disenchanted (although our main reason for emigrating was to give our children a better lifestyle than we could have afforded in the UK). Whilst I was worried that, as a writer, I’d have no cultural background to draw on in a different country, it’s also possibly easier to write about a landscape one knows when looking from a greater distance: up close, the detail can get in the way at times.

In terms of feeling at all disconnected, the only thing that trips me up occasionally is the inversion of the seasons -- someone might be talking about spring and I’ll have an image of March or April in my head, until I remember I’m somewhere else and have to relocate my thoughts to September instead! – but, other than that, everything (my attachment to Britain’s cultural and historical development) is very much a part of me and shapes the way I think and write. Apart from that, and missing the taste of good strawberries, I feel like I’ve kept my cake and eaten it. Migrants end up never fully belonging anywhere, I suppose, because there is that sense of being culturally divided, but it’s also great to have lived one life in one country and to live another one somewhere else, because, if the experience is a positive one, it’s ultimately very enriching and healthy for someone who wants to paint or write or compose.

P.S. I’m delighted your mother is enjoying the book – thanks – and glad she found something in the morris dancing, maypole and mummers scene she could particularly connect with. That’s very good to hear.

mrs a said...

Thanks - v interesting. I spent 3 months in the southern hemisphere years ago and it was that which made me realise what a product of my own culture I was.

I am probably like John Clare who went bonkers when they moved him two miles up the road, or however far it was. (Not that I write poetry...Or anything for that matter...)

But I can see that dislocation can also fire the creative impulse.