Friday, 25 March 2011
Rock Bottom by Geoff Baker
I always seem to have more than one book on the go at any one time.
Rarely are they novels. They tend toward the autobiographical, the travel writers of a half a century ago walking across unexplored desert terrain which I read with a tinge of sadness and regret as those 'lost' places are now found by ever more people...
But these past few months have been an exception and I have bought The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; as a new American edition threatens to do away with the word 'nigger', which I don't use but which I think in this case illustrates a country's history and this should be taught and properly explained. But that is just a personal opinion. Also I have never read the whole book and only had passages of it read to me when I was a child in the Cub Scouts.
In addition to that I found on a Geneva second hand book stall one cold February Friday afternoon a copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover; from the original manuscript or edition published by Lawrence in 1935, if memory serves me well. I can see here the start of a pattern; the desire to read the classics before I die. To that should be added a borrowed copy of Nine Lives by William Dalrymple. His earlier City of Djinns I found absolutely fascinating. A collection of personal histories of a year spent in Delhi. And pretty much anything I can find on India I devour hungrily having been to that enormous beautiful country twice in the last six years.
Jan Morris' Venice is still there by the bedside too, to be dipped into following a long weekend there last September. A stunning work.
All these books have one thing in common, and it is the beautiful and extreme spoken word; the extraordinary use of language of the time and place.
To that pile I have merited Geoff Baker's "Rock Bottom." I thought it might use the word fuck too many times; more than necessary in anycase, but having laughed through the story, often aloud I have to say it is one of the most enjoyable reads I have had for a long, long time. And you can never have too many fucks.
None of the characters are what one would call nice. They are not admirable. They are hard, rude, addicted, self-opinionated modern Britons. Not very likeable at all. There are none that you can hang your hat on, and say I enjoyed him, I liked her and I'd like to read more about these people. But nonetheless I could not put the book down and worked that week suffered.
It is quite simply a view on a particular part of Britain's music industry, the people who play in it, work in it and keep the whole circus of celebrity turning. Geoff baker should know as he worked in that industry, as publicist to Paul McCartney and Linda his late wife, the American photographer.
I hope Baker writes another. And this book will make a bloody good film. I even discovered I feature on page 51... that's to say I am one of the old fuckers, the character Billy Vernon talks about.
Sympathise with me.