Wednesday, 8 December 2010

alms for oblivion

One of my various brilliant collaborators has been telling me to read Simon Raven's Alms for Oblivion sequence for about two years. He finally pressed volume one into my hands the other night. It is, predictably, the bomb.

It's mostly humans being vile, frequently in dialogue, but he periodically throws in a passage like this:
Here was the birthplace of the first man, no innocent Adam in a beautiful garden but a cold, hungry beast who must slink and kill. Here was the human spirit in its raw and primordial essence, as it was when it stirred for the first time and awoke to tear its crimson path down the millennia.
Here's another piece. It's just one character's view, and hopelessly reductive and so on, but reminded me a lot of Julian Gough's excellent Prospect piece about how and why the artistic establishment undervalues comedy*:
'That's the boring thing about women,' Carton Weir remarked. 'If you just say, "Let's have a bit of fun," they look shocked. But if you say something portentous, like "Darling, I'm so unhappy," they'll drop flat on the nearest bed. Your unhappiness makes the whole thing serious, you see, not as serious as marriage would, of course, but at least it removes any suspicion of levity, and levity outrages their female conceit. The result is that if one wants a woman one has to go moaning round pretending to be unhappy. Too tedious. Which is why,' he concluded brazenly, 'I prefer boys.'
* It's been linked to a lot on Twitter lately. I think Stephen Fry is at least partly responsible.


BeijingCat said...

Excellent books. Don't bother with the terrible sequel sequence, though.

jondrytay said...

I didn't know you were being banged on to about Simon Raven. You are lucky to have avoided me banging on about him. I have certainly banged on to your flatmate about him, so far with no success.