Monday, 12 March 2012

Back to the forest clearances

Normal service is resumed in terms of book deliveries - 5 today. Four of them are minor Keith Roberts novels and short stories, some of them quite disturbing. A cursory glance makes it clear that - like Robert Heinlein and Brian Aldiss - Roberts' response to the 70s/80s was more technology + less political freedom: no democrat he.

'The Shack At Great Cross Halt' presents a Britain made dystopian by motorways and consumerism, but 'The Ministry of Children' presents comprehensive schools as hellholes of savagery. In 'The Big Fans', wind farms cause the apocalypse (it's as though Roberts was writing Telegraph and Mail headlines 40 years in advance). 'Our Lady of Desperation' presents a Stalinist Britain which taxes artists at 100% (my guess is that Roberts had just received a tax bill), while 'Missa Privata' pitches a heroic opera singer against Communist Britain… all very tedious, and not very perceptive: the UK voted in Thatcher the same year this collection appeared.

Also appeared: Martin Johnes's Wales Since 1939, which looks really good, and comes with a complementary website full of extra resources. Talking of Wales, here's Welsh avant-gardist Jane Arden's Anti-Clock.

Also in today - the Berlin Philharmonic's 1964 recording of The Magic Flute. Weirdo masonic-occult text, amazing music.


Anonymous said...

in all fairness to Keith Roberts, my 1980s comprehensive school WAS a hellhole of savagery! In all other respects, however, he sounds like Norman Tebbit writing under a pseudonym (has that possibility been explored?).

The Plashing Vole said...

A lot of schools were, of course, but Roberts seems to have used the collection to work through a list of Things That Grind His Gears. Not good for literature.