Parties in dirigibles, parties in swimming baths... and now parties in boxing rings, for last night heralded the bright new dawn of Ned Beauman's debut novel, Boxer, Beetle, which has already drawn exuberant praise from reviewers. Plastic beetles pointed the way along the street; under lights so bright we were practically photosynthesising, we stood around an actual boxing ring in Hoxton (in 'London's trendy Hoxton', I should write) and drank wine. Girls in leggings and dresses, boys in cardigans and multicoloured shoes: yes, this was The East. Ned Beauman himself, a ganglyish, soft-voiced chap, gave an excellent speech from the boxing ring. He challenged us all to a fight, and offered half his royalties if he were beaten. Nobody took up the offer: although two of the guests were later seen making an attempt at cagefighting (I think). Beauman also spoke eloquently about the mental landscape around the book, and its place in 'experimental' fiction; in particular he took exception to Gabriel Josipovici. 'Asking what happened to modernism is like asking what happened to punk,' he said. Beauman goes, at a tender age, to be a writer in residence somewhere in Germany. I await his next pronouncement (or tome) with anticipation.
I have spent the last two weeks holed up in Yorkshire, scribbling away at one book or another. Let us hope that good news will follow soon. Whilst there I met the poet Edward Barker, who sent me a poem called The Reader by Richard Wilbur, about an old lady looking back at books she's once read. I urge you to seek it out. It ends:
'Caught in the flow of things wherever bound,
The blind delight of being, ready still
To enter life on life and see them through'.
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