The Emigrants by George Lamming

The Emigrants by George Lamming

Bajan Fiction

Source – Personal copy

When I looked at the list of books for this roll of the club which is 1954 (Well I’m lat I reviewed three last week but I still had two to et finished and review and this is the first of those two)I really wanted to try and read books from my shelves as I have a habit of just going and ordering from the list when it comes out then forget the books and miss reading them so I decided collect what I had which was a fair few about 8 books and this was one of them and I had long wanted to review a few books from the wind rush writers whom George Lamming was part of in fact he may have been the first writer from the Caribbean to have put across that experience of coming to Post war Uk and how art felt . This book follows a group of men from all over the Caribbean on a boart to the Uk.Lamming initially taught English in Trinidad then he head to teach at a boarding school in England , he was also a broadcast on the show Caribbean voices a show that gave window to those first wave of writers like Lamming himself , his good friend Sam Selvon and Derek Walcott. This was his second book and focus much more on the experience of the emigrant.

The voices warmed to a rich peal of laughter and the Barbadian found no support for his correction. He raised himself and started with a feigned indignation down towards the Grenadian who on no occasion seemed willing to offend. The others laughed, enriching their banter about the small islanders. An altercation followed between the Barbadian and the Grenadian in which enumerate3d the virtues of his own island. The men hoisted themselves from the bunks and watched the adversaries who were not inclined to make any concessions

The boat can be weighted at time as people from the different islands clash

The book tries to capture a group of Emigrants as they travel on a boat from the Caribbean to the Uk this is the same journey the writer took himself in fact he was on the same boat as sam elevon when they came to the Uk there is Collis a writer how tries to see what is happening in proportion eight up what awaits them. Then we meet Dickson he is a teacher but he is a nervous character and sees the fear ahead of him and what may go wrong he is a real glass half empty type of person.Higgins a man with his dreams is happy to be going after see his paths blocked . As we see them head the narritve moves and gives the various feel of these and other character then we see what happens when they finally get there when the real England hits the version of England they all have had in the minds. As we see Higgins start to suffer as that intial optimism falls away. Then Dickson worst fears happen. We see what happened to many as they tried to settle in these large cities and a world that is so much different to there own.

When the strange man returned to the dec k it was highs who saw him first. He stood alone looking across the sea wondering what he should do next. He had found no real contact with the sailor, and he thought out certain way of approaching the West Indians. He scratched the back of his head, trying not to look in their direction.Higgins kept his head down thinking. He seemed to feel the strange man bewilderment, and his sympathy became more urgent. The men watched Higgins and wonder what was happening.The strange man couldn’t bear to be alone much longer. As the ship grew nearer the next stop which was England, the need for company became greater.

The boat draws closer the tense is there you can cut the air as they say.

This is a book that has a myriad of voice in it what he has tried to do is capture the Caribbean experience from every angle I this character but a lot of it is that list dream that feeling of how different the dream of Britain that they had is brought crashing to the ground when they step off that book he was a fan of Jouyce it seems and in part you c an see that here, Anthony Burgess was a huge fan of Lamming called him one of the best we have. This is a insight into a journey and experience that many people from the Caribbean took including the writer himself it is about the wanting of a better life the chance being able to Emigrate can bring but it also captures the woes and worries of this experience as well. it had a style I enjoyed it was jarring at times but I felt it worked as we jump in and out of these characters near the end we focus more on a few of the characters. It shows how hard it can be to leave behind all you know this should be a wider read book in fact all the wind rush books as they give a sense of perspective on the experience which although 70 years ago is still happening now with people want a better life !. Have you a favourite book from the Windrush generation of writers ?

Winstons score – A voices of the past caught in time of the wind rush experience

Contempt by Alberto Moravia

Contempt by Alberto Moravia

Italian Fiction

Original title – Il Disprezzo

Translator – Angus Davidson

Source – Personal copy

I haven’t read Moravia in years in fact when I thought about it how long ago it was it must have been twenty five years ago and as I have a lot of his books on my shelves when this showed up as a possible title for the 1954 club it seemed time to read him I had planned an unsuccessful Italian reading month and planned to read him years ago but that failed so I grasp this chance to read the best known post war writer from Italy , well his best works all came after the war.He was the master of examine the relationship behind those middle class doors getting to the heart of what makes relationships and men and women beat. He won most of the major prize in Italian fiction. He also was married to the great Italian writer Elsa Morante he also had a relationship with Dacia Marani so he was at the `Heart of the Italian literary scene. A lot of his books were also made into films this was as well By the Great Jean Luc Goddard I haven’t seen the film I watch the trailer and hope to catch it at some point as I like Goddard work.

At the time when I first met Battista, I found myself in an extremely situation, and I did not know how to escape from it. My difficulty consisted in my having that time acquired the lease of a flat, although I had not the money to complete my payment for it and did not know how I should get the money. We had lived Emila and I, during our first two years, in a large furnished roomie a lodging house. Any other woman woman but Emil would perhaps not have put up with this provisional arrangements, but, in the case of Emil, I think that, by accepting it, she gave me the greatest proof of love that a devoted wife can give a husband. Emilia was, indeed what is called a born housewife.

The two need money hence he takes the screenwriting job

The book is about a couple Riccardo Molten he is one of these young writer that thinks he is the next best thing but he has end up as a screenwriter on a film that is an adaptation of the Odyssey and he is married to the Beautiful Emil but she is maybe what would now be called a wag as she tries to escape her past or as he calls it her ancestral situation. So she likes the best things in life and this is how  Ricardo end up with the scriptwriting gig, to keep her with a made and with her sports car. The story follows the making of the film which he is doing for a producer called Battista whom early on spends time alone with his wife after they go in her car and he is left to follow and gets held up. Then on another occasion Emil sees Ricardo kiss his secretary. This sets up the story as it is one of mistrust as we see a marriage fall apart as one man seems to set it on a course to split.s this Happens Riccardo sees parallels in his life and the film Odyssey he is making.He is a sensitive soul that is baked in the sun as the film is made and things start to get worse as The director ask for to much in the film they are making.

As Came into y own street, I was again seized with perplexity; Emila was certainly not at home, and I , in that new flat which now seemed to me not so much strange as actively hostile should feel more lost and miserable than I should in a public place. For a moment I was almost tempted to turn back to go and spend that hour and a half in a cafe. Then with a sudden providential reawakening of memory, I recalled that I had promised Battista, the previous day, Tobbe at home at that time, so that he could telephone me and arrange an appointment. This would be an important appointment, because Battista was to speak to me at last about the new script, and to make concrete proposals and introduce me to the director

Later on he is less sure of Emila where is she.

The novel came about partly as his own marriage was in trouble. The Main thing I felt as I read the book was that old say as you sow, so shall you reap this is a classic case of the problems being in the n=mind of the main characters and getting blown out of proportions. along side so clever framing devices like the film , the subject matter of the film.I used the term baked in the sun as this is how the book felt it is a pressure cooker of a marriage ready to explode if there isn’t a gentle release.Another interesting choice for the 1954 club. it is well plotted with the four main character the husband and wIfe the film producer and as I haven’t mentioned the director Rheingold a man that makes unrealistic expectations on Riccardo around the film m and how it is to be made. This is a dissection  of a marriage it is pulled apart with a cold eye and you can see a man writing about his own as he writes around this fictional couple. Moravia portrays what it is like to be in the middle of this all as not is happening. Have you read anything by Alberto Moravia ?

Winston’s score -+B An insight into a marriage falling apart based on the writers own marriage failing.

Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck

Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck

American fiction

Source – personal copy

I am on to the second choice for this weeks 1954 club and I go to America and John Steinbeck . I have long been a fan of Steinbeck I like of Mice and men at school and then in may 20s I read a few more then I decided to slow down and leave some for the rest of my life so as I turned fifty the other week it seemed right to cover him again in fact it was 2010 when I reviewed the Pearl from him here so maybe it is time to read a few more of my tar from him this jumped out as it was the follow up to my favourite book from Steinbeck Cannery row.What Sweet Thursday(the title is a reference to an old names for the days of the weeks so it is sweet Thursday after Lousy Wednesday and before Waiting Friday ). As we catch up with Doc  after the war as he returns to his home on cannery Row and sees a changed row but in some ways it is just  the same

Doc was philosophical about it.He whiled away his free hours with an unlimited supply of government alcohol, mad many friends and resisted promotion. When the war was over, doc was kept on by a grateful government to straighten out certain inventory problems, a job he was fitted for since he had contributed largely to the muck-up . Doc was honourably discharged two years after our victory.

Doc returns a couple years after everyone else

It opens and says how the war had an effect on Monterey and cannery row in either small or large parts this include Doc who was drafted as a sergeant in a vd section. He’d left an old friend in charge of his western Labs but when he returned he found it run down covered in mildew. he then discover the shop owner opposite we has changed but Mack is still there and they drink. what follows is Doc settling back into the row and seeing how the world of the row has change slightly since the end of the war. then a few chapters in we see Suzy arrive on a Greyhound bus her arrival which sees her end up on the row and at the Bear house where people notice doc seems to like here and this leads to them teaching her to drive and try to get her and Doc together bring him  some happiness but there is more to Suzy and we see what happens.

When a girl named Suzy got off the greyhound bus, she looked up and down the street, fixed her lipstick, then lifted her beat-up suitcase and headed for the Golden Poppy restaurant. Suzy was a pretty girl with a flat nose and wide mouth. She had a good figure, was twenty-one , five-feet five, hair probably brown(dyed blonde), brown cloth coat, rabbit sin collar, cotton print drsss, brown calf shoes(heel taps little run over), scruff on the right toe.She limped slightly on her right foot. Before she picked up the suitcase she opened her brown purse of simulated leather.In it were mirror, comb with two teeth missing.Lucky strikes, matchbook that said “Hotel Rosalie, San Francisco , half a packet of peppermint life savers. eighty five cents in silver, no folding money, lipstick but no powder, tin box of aspirin, no keys

Suzy arrives but she is a little down on heel her self


I loved cannery row the way Steinbeck caught those with no hope so well and made us feel pathos with them as characters so with Docs return after the war we capture those years between the end of the war and the baby boomer years. As we see how the war years has made some people not return and other let go and other come to the row. I said when I reviewed Simenon book set in America three bedrooms in Manhattan has a parallel in another way it follows a man falling from bed to bed and this is the row trying to find Doc a woman. Then Enter Suzy newly arrived from San Fransisco  and we see what happens when Suzy and Dc are pushed into trying to start a relationship. But as ever the `row has a nasty twists and turns to their lives.Steinbeck is great at conveying those lives on the edge of the society those we don’t always see in other books the gritty underworld of those just getting by where needing a microscope as a man of science shows how tough life is for even Doc. But what also comes across the brotherhood of the Row when Mack tries to teach suzy to drive or the way the rally round to try and get doc and Suzy together in air to help there friend feel whole.Have you read Steinbeck have you a favourite book by him ?The second stop on this weeks 1954 club and next we will be off to Italy.

Winstons score – A a gem of a story a great follow ups to Cannery row.

The New Men by CP Snow

The New Men by CP Snow

English fiction

Source personal copy

it is the 1954 club this week I have a pile of books I hope to get over the week but I start with this from the writer CP Snow I had long wanted to start his stranger and brother series of which this is one so when it was announced the 1954 club I looked at the various list around the net and discovered that this was on the list of books published that year. I looked at the book blurb and yes it is part of the series but seemed to be a self constant story. CP snow was a writer that tried to connect as he called it the two cultures of Art and science here is a book that is an example maybe of that idea as it is about science in a way as it follows two brothers as they are involved with the search for atomic fission which is what powers Nuclear power but also is used in atomic weapons. a group of scientist from Cambridge try and make the discover in the early 40s

Martin gave a friendly, sarcastic smile. I went on. He met each point on the plane of reason. He had reckoned them out himself; np one insured more carefully against the future. I was telling him nothing he did not know. I became angry gain.

“She’s pretty shallow, you know. I expect her loves are too”

Martin didn’t reply.

“She’s bright, but she’s not very clever”

“That doesn’t matter to me” He said

“You’d find her boring in time.”

I”I couldn’t have done less so up to now”said Martin

The book like the others in the series revolves around the life and times of the Elliot brothers here we see them get the chance to be involved int he search for Atomic fission. The book opens as the two brother meet and Martin has a new lady friend he introduces Lewis to his new lady friend but when Lewis dismisses this lady as unsuitable and says his brother will bore of her over time the two fall out. Then Martin as he says in the meeting with Lewis is starting to look at fission and he is called to a group in a small village called Barofrd near Warwick to study and try and perfect the research. in what is called Project Mr Toad as the group splits up into a couple of teams doing slightly different things he decides to try and reconcile with his brother and get him to join him at Barford.What follows is the journey in try to discover but also a side story of maybe someone spying. As part of the project connects with Nuclear weapons.The story is about the morals of what they did as well as s=what different characters in the book around the brothers see as the moral rights and wrongs

Though Hector Ross had left me in suspense about his intention, I did worry much. Despite our mutual dislike I trusted his mind, and for a strong mind there was only one way to open,

Thus Luke, in the midst of disapproval, got all he asked for, and went back to playing his piano. There was months to get through before the pile was refitted. He and Martin had set themselves for another wait.

It was during this wait I had my first intimation of a different kind of secret. one of the security branches had begun asking questions. They had some evidence( so it seemed though the muffled hints) that there might be a leaked

The later part of the book follows this revelation around the brother and the project

Now this is part of a series and in the middle of the series it seems but for me it did work as a standalone story of the two brothers and there journey from initially falling out the both getting involved in Mr toad as the project is called (I just loved the fact the project was called mr toad). Snow used a mixture of real facts around the discovery of fission.He also question the outcome of some of the research which lead to the Atomic bomb in a small part. Snow worked in the government around the time the part involving government officials and parts of the government feels very real in the way he portray it. The project is set in  Barford is an actual village in warship in fact I was very near it this weekend when I was away but didn’t get chance to pop and take a pic of the village sign. The rest of the series is around Lewis Elliot. I will hopefully read the other in the series. I chose this as my first for Club1954 as it  made me finally get to snow and this series I had listen to him on Desert Island disc when he was on in the in 1975 here is a link to that episode. I felt I had to read him and also the idea of science and art working closer together appeals to me and I’m sure he’d liked books like Benjamin Labatut  When we cease to understand the world a recent book (see what I’ve done there manager o link to a book in translation). Have you read anything from CP Snow ?

Winstons score – A a lost gem of English lit

March 2023


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