Sunday, 3 July 2011

Seventies Prosers

The Sea, The Sea is a beautifully written novel by Iris Murdoch about a retired theatre luminary who buys a strange house on the coast for some peace and quiet but finds it hard to extricate himself from his past. The novel's main character Charles Arrowby is a self aggrandising boor with peculiar culinary taste yet somehow after the turmoil and tribulations which befall him during his coastal retreat his humanity blossoms and he sees life anew. The book bursts with odd bod side characters, comedy, tragedy, farce, social critique and a smattering of eastern mysticism and it's Murdoch's skill as a writer that sews these disparate pieces together into a strangely uplifting narrative. I've already bought a handful of Murdoch's other novels so I hope this wasn't a one off.

J G Ballard's High Rise is one of his most potent barbs into modern living with a narrative split between three residents of an ultra modern, near future, mega apartment complex that initially seems idyllic but soon descends into a dinner jacketed barbarism. The tailored convenience of the over designed building and it's stuffing with privileged middle/upper class professionals soon squeezes the narrow minds into madness and Ballard's skill in describing the moral decay of the architect, TV journalist and medical lecturer far surpasses his later Cocaine Nights and Super Cannes. Be warned though as usual with Ballard's work this is bleak and unrepentantly so. Apparently Nic Roeg tried to adapt it back in the 70's but it's finally heading to the big screen helmed by the excellent Vincenzo Natali.

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