“Nobody writes good things about New Jersey at all. And I thought, well, maybe that would be the thing to do. Write a novel that is affirming about New Jersey because, certainly it would be unusual. And frankly I liked New Jersey.”
Eric Ambler (1909-1998) was one of the foremost architects of espionage fiction as it exists today. Like his predecessor Somerset Maugham, Ambler sought to transform the genre from the verbal banality and minimal characterizations of authors William Le Queux and Edward Oppenheim to a more sophisticated, morally ambiguous world of deception and danger.
It’s not a classic in the sense of Casablanca or Citizen Kane, but it’s a kind of cinematic cipher. It opens your eyes to the possibilities still inherent in the Western and shows you its true star. Not a man on a horse or a gunfighter at high noon, but the West itself.
Simplicity requires oneness. If you want to be someone, you are two and you are not simple. If you want to be simple, you are also two and you are not simple.
But, even more importantly, he also struck the first modern note in the evolution of the genre with respect to the degree of personal doubt and insecurity that over-shadows the mission – the same note, albeit greatly amplified, that is found in the novels of such well-known successors as Eric Ambler, Graham Greene, and John Le Carré, whose spy stories may be correctly seen, in part at least, as a continuance of John Buchan and the Hannay Quartet.
The time between New Year’s 1956 and April 1958 was a period of general uncertainty and renewed spiritual doubt for Neal Cassady. He remained haunted by Natalie’s death.
“Ah yes,” he whispered to me, ”I spent one helluva long night wrassling all over the floor of a room there with one terrific Jew gal. You know Susan Sontag?” “Personally, no, I never met her, though I’ve read her.” “Well, that novel,” he chortled, “that opening … in the abandoned railway tunnel? That was me! That shadow man; that spook; that brute. None other than Jim Dickey! One helluva a long night that was, boy, lemmee tell you!”
He would furiously lead anti-war marches weekly on our courthouse steps. He improvised chants and picket lines in key Lancaster spots for maximum visibility…Soon he began to organize and conduct clandestine parties with bands and full-on amateur boxing bouts in obscure downtown rooms, rural homes and barns. He posed many local dignitaries against each other brawling with full pads on in the ring (often for his own comic purposes). They were brilliant extravaganzas for the aware.
Goethe and Tagore, separated by time and contexts, but joined in their great felicity over the literary idiom, show similar quests in the understanding of the sciences. It is alluring to jump to the conclusion of a phony and fashionable unity; that science and arts are the same after all; and literature, music, mathematics, and the physical sciences are all manifestations of the common muse.
Through this dark canopy of industrialism, greed and pollution certain small punctures have allowed minute shafts of light to shine on our cowering selves. Henry Miller is one of these rays of light.
To sum up in a phrase the true and deepest character of Lawrence’s genius, it was given by his close friend Aldous Huxley in an introduction to the first collected letters shortly after his death: he was a mystical materialist. And thereon hangs the tale I shall unfold.
The notion of Art’s secular epiphany takes us to Vladimir Nabokov, a reader of Joyce. As I recall, it was about 1956 or so that an excerpt of his then unpublishable LOLITA appeared in an early number of Anchor Review.
R.K. Narayan Narayan’s fiction rarely addresses political issues or high philosophy. He writes with grace and humor, about a fictional town Malgudi and its inhabitants; and their little lives. Narayan is a classic teller of tales; an enduring appeal springs from his canvas where common men and women of all […]
From that first tingling in bed to calling 911 was an hour and a half. Sudden onset, they call it.
I knew it occurred every Autumn. And every Autumn I intended to go. And after many trials and as many errors, I finally made it one August. It was the festival of the earth.