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    Many thanks to Punkalkis, Jon and denistonrussell for their kind comments, and for taking the trouble to post. I’m glad that some people, at least, like the last chapter of Maxwell Sim! I’ve linked to it already on the blog, but here again is a link to the only review I’ve seen that tries to get to the heart of the book’s second half:

    http://www.thenational.ae/apps/pbcs.dll … 19972/1008

    Now I must go and write a few words about Beryl Bainbridge, whose sad passing was announced this morning …


    Many (probably most) contributors to this blog will appreciate the fact that all JC’s books speak to each other, and that ever since LIKE A FIERY ELEPHANT we’re more attuned to the significance of BS Johnson than we might otherwise have been. To me, having read the BSJ biography is a bonus – it was another Coe book, after all – which enhances the pleasure of MAXWELL SIM, especially its last, contentious chapter. But without it the pleasure would have been as sweet. How wonderful to have a narrator who doesn’t read. I mean, it’s such a relief for those of us burdened with guilt at at those mountains of unread novels which we all too heartily add to, isn’t it? Updike might turn in his grave. Then again, perhaps he’d smile at the extra, unexpected royalty to the Adams estate. I read MAXWELL SIM in a kind of all-too-rare exhilarating freefall and came to the end with a bump that felt like landing in the right place. In safe hands. I think that’s why it worked for me, best of all. That’s why I love it.


    I’ve read Ed Lake’s article with interest and I must say it has made me curious to read Johnson’s biography (though I wasn’t even aware of the existence of the writer before I saw JC in Chiasso). But it doesn’t add or take away anything from the fact that I enjoyed the end of MS before I felt the need to think about it or to make sense of it. In fact, thank you Jon for what you wrote in your last post; I wish I’d said that so well! It is in line (though more powerfully written) with what I said in my blog a long time ago (and summarized in another post here) when I compared JC to David Lodge; you may think it is fun and feel smart at recognizing references but you don’t need them to get pleasure and insight from the stories. The fact that they are contrived – that they can be so overtly fiction – doesn’t make them less entertaining or even less realistic, less easy to empathize with. Besides, JC likes surprising us with some of his endings (I’m especially thinking of What a Carve Up… ) and I like surprises, if they are clever ones.
    Of course I did think about it for a while after reading MS and I exclaimed something like "how post-modernist!", trying hard to remember what I had studied in 1987 for my third exam of English literature on the history of the novel + modernism versus post-modernism. There was something about finding authors in their works of art (like VanEyck in the Arnolfini Portrait), something about the "mise en abime"… but I will not go into that for fear of making more silly mistakes … 🙂
    Again, we don’t need all that. Maxwell Sim is just another great piece of literature.


    Somehow when I first read about it, I got the feeling that your new book would have a connection with B.S.Johnson. Since I’m not burdened with too much knowledge the review of Ed Lake was very helpful.
    Short stories often give me reading-pleasure and I like the way you used the four stories -I remembered one from the Ox-tales- to make a beautiful composition (…the way you avoided a good poem also amused me).
    Thanks, I look forward to meet you in Leuven at the end of september,

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