Campbell is very good on Capote and it is the slightly gossipy air of his writing that makes these studies especially interesting. He is even better on James Baldwin, subject of one of his books. He demonstrates how the FBI persecuted Baldwin, drove him into exile, and hampered his life so that after leaving the United States Baldwin’s best years as a writer were over. It would be pleasant to believe that such things are no longer possible, pleasant but, alas, unfortunately naive.
This seems to be a recurring theme for these American writers. In a culture obsessed with money, that judges people’s worth, and even godliness, on their income and possessions, how can a serious writer survive psychologically and continue to produce while knowing those around them often perceive them to be layabouts and losers who should get ‘a proper job’?
Send Yourself Roses is not at all like these recent memoirs, but more like the kind of celebrity hagiography produced as a movie tie-in or short-term career booster. This represents a lost opportunity for Turner, one of whose purposes in releasing this memoir seems to be to garner more of the respect she has worked so hard for.
Mace and Vincent-Northam are both experienced freelancers, and provide readers with the benefit of their experience. The overall result will be a shorter learning curve and fewer rejections. Topics covered include such things that all new writers need to know, like writing a bio, how to research the market, how to format a children’s picture book, writing a cover letter, avoiding common grammatical problems, invoicing, and a whole lot more.
All in all, like The Dangerous Book for Boys, The Daring Book for Girls is a good-looking, long lasting gift that girls will turn to for inspiration repeatedly. The balance between doing and learning is nicely managed, and the information is geared to be interesting and exciting for young girls.
With a hefty dose of humour, the reader is encouraged to consider the impact of what we do today on how the future might look. While the book isn’t didactic, and is often jocular, Williams makes it clear that whether or not the human race survives, and in what shape, is something that we have to imagine and work towards.
I’ve been reading his blog for so long now that calling him Wheaton, or Mr. Wheaton is just as odd as trying to call my junior high teachers by their first names now that I’ve grown. From that standpoint, The Happiest Days of Our Lives reads for me less as an autobiography than as stories being swapped over beers by a couple of old friends remembering the Good Old Days.
To sum up: this is a memorable book and was an influential one too, for the Beats especially (“on the road” is a phrase that recurs throughout; Kerouac seems to have palmed it from here). It is that rare thing: a cult book that lives up to its reputation. Its take-home message: the world is a tool for self-discovery; not at all bad for an autobiography.
The question remains, is the mind of the agent for psychokinesis creating these events, or merely becoming receptive to their existence? In this way the book is about the unexplored nature and potential of human consciousness, and how it might exist, co-exist and interact with physical matter.
He has an engaging readiness to gossip. His portraits, largely unfriendly, of Nicholas Nabokov and Theodor Adorno are skilful and have a hint of venom. In other contexts, he is equally gifted at bringing to life the relations, often troubled, of the musical giants of the past century. He presents many incidents that explain much about the musical developments of the period. Some of these are far from edifying – and often all the more amusing for that.