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See all 5. Additional Product Features Author s. Alasdair Gray is an old, asthmatic Glaswegian who lives by painting, writing and book design. He is currently working on a book about his visual art, A Life in Pictures, copiously illustrated, to be published by Canongate in Show more Show less. No ratings or reviews yet.
1982, Janine (Canongate Classics)
Be the first to write a review. Best-selling in Fiction See all. Blue Moon by Lee Child , Hardcover 3. Wells Paperback, Save on Fiction Trending price is based on prices over last 90 days. Here, the novelist's idea of attractive women and how they dress cannot help but get old very fast, even if, as a reader, you were ever on board with it. Gray has McLeish dismiss de Sade in a brief couple of sentence, for an irrelevant reason. What can that be except classic repression?
So early on I began worrying for Gray, wonderding if he could sustain the abrupt transitions from pornographic fantasies to realist descriptions of middle-class Scottish life. As representation of someone's imagination, it's risky because McLeish is using these fantasies for two things at once: they supposedly help him to stop thinking about his actual life, but they are also masturbation fantasies, but he doesn't want to wank, because that depresses him even more, and so he keeps wanting to end the very fantasies that are sustaining him.
How long, I wondered, could McLeish, in the novel, continue in that mindset? It doesn't make things easier that the two worlds are so far apart. The pornography is relentlessly optimistic and controlling; the real memories are equally relentlessly pathetic and pessimistic.
So early on I began worrying for McLeish, wondering if he could sustain Concerning the cover: Gray has several styles; the design on the cover is a nude man in a variation of Leonardo's homo ad circulum. It's done in the kind of midth c.
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It gives of a stale perfume, as Ezra Pound once said of his own first collection of poetry, "A Lume Spento. It's a graphical crux, and in the middle there is also print that is set sideways and upside-down. This is all hand typeset in , if Gray had lived in California, he could have used the early Apple computers, but this book was done with that kind of assistance.
Alasdair (James) Gray Biography
Naturally it is necessary not to judge the book anachronistically: but it's still possible to ask if the graphical typesetting expresses what it is meant to. I find it the most convincing part of the book, partly because it is so fastidiously managed, even though it means to depict a moment of hysterical crisis and hallucination; and partly because Gray permits himself other voices, which can't be assigned to anyone in the book. This is the only time in the book that such a thing happens, and it is strange and liberating. After this, the book relents on its own structure, the one that worried me, and becomes more of a narrative about McLeish's actual life.
In the second half, there are fewer interruptions from the pornographic fantasies, and when they occur they are more managed. At one point, McLeish is having a fantasy about his principal imaginary object of desire, Janine, involving "two unfastened studs in her skirt"; he interrupts this with the words "and this is NOT the fantasy I intended," and then immediately resumes his thoughts about politics. The very next sentence is "One of the earliest aims of the United States space programme was to create a self-supporting human colony on the moon This is an atrophied, defanged version of the more hysterical, less effective, interruptions that fill the narrative up to the crisis.
In this way the book becomes less risky, and for me less interesting, after the crux. It ends with a moment of redemption that is suitably pathetic: McLeish remembers a minor moment of courage that he had back in school, facing up to a sadistic teacher. There could hardly be a less self-aggrandizing moment of triumph, and it is so appallingly small in relation to what he's done, and not done, during his life, that it functions as the only possible believable redemption.
But for me, it's a patch that is required by the entire second half of the book. The more radical first half could not have used that moment, even if it had been available to McLeish or Gray. Parenthetically: I wasn't taken by the politics in the book, but there is a lot to be said about it, and it's one of Gray's central preoccupations.
A very good treatment is in Stephen Bernstein's book "Alisdair Gray," which devotes a chapter to ", Janine," and the many links between the narrator's politics, his sense of class, place, and self, and his sexual fantasies.
LibraryThing member Zibethicus. An essential classic. An ageing, divorced, secretly alcoholic electrical engineer sits in a hotel room paid for by his employers and drinks. He drinks and fantasises about matters sexual in order to keep reality at bay - and especially the realities of his own inadequacies and major and minor failures, including his support for the nasty kind of Social Darwinism so much in fashion in England and other places then and now! But tonight is the night on which everything will come apart LibraryThing member sheherazahde.
I don't quite know how to describe this book. It is about depression, suicide, sex, and divine intervention, and the text does some strange things at times. I like it, but then I like weird stuff. LibraryThing member freddlerabbit. We learn bits and pieces about his internal landscape as his thoughts interrupt one another - in the middle of a painful memory about his ex-wife, he'll start fantasizing mid-word and launch into a slightly new iteration of the same masturbatory fantasy we meet early on.
Or, in the middle of a fantasy, to calm himself down, he'll think back to mixed regret and anguish in childhood, his wish to be better than he is and his simultaneous inflating himself and criticizing himself, or the way lovers of his have treated him. As the foreword says, this is a porn fantasy, novella, and work of experimental fiction all intertwined like messy weeds.
Canongate Books | Books from Scotland
Probably the thing I like the most about the book is the style of writing, just the way it feels. Each page contains a caption in the margin that attempts to get at the main point of that page - a meta-structure or outline of sorts. The writing is grammatical, for the most part - but sentences are fragmentary, incomplete, and self-interrupting - it is the closest thing I have ever read to actually being in someone's mind. There are passages of a single letter or of characters at times of extreme emotion - the way many of us find ourselves thinking non-verbally at such moments.
Another thing that compels me is the recursiveness. The narrator returns to the same themes again and again - sexual fantasies involving the same characters in similar situations; his own importance or lack thereof in his job; how he felt about his parents as a child; his ex-wife and former lovers - and every so often, a new thread will be introduced. He can't help himself from pouring over and over these things as he drinks and thinks - his obsessive focus should be boring, and yet I wasn't bored - I kept looking for new clues, or sympathizing with his need to review and review - I do the same thing about troubling events or even amazing ones.
Self points out that Grey here is experimenting with new forms - and I think that's true, but it's much easier to follow than Joyce's Ulysses or Danielewski's House of Leaves. If you don't like this book, it may be because you are uncomfortable with the sexual parts - you won't have liked Portnoy's Complaint either. Amazon says this is about power and powerlessness - that is very accurate. Amazon also says it's about these things as examined through pornography and sex - I think they've got it partially right.
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