Tuesday, June 24, 2003
This book is dim, I cannot read . . .
When not drawing up sporadic posts for this website, or being shocked at the drinks prices in Dublin*, this lowculture writer occasionally has to do some 'real' work.
Part of these chores involves reviewing books for a Scottish daily newspaper, with the latest preview copy having landed through the letterbox with a particularly dull thud.
Things weren't looking all that great upon noticing Our Shadowed Present: Modernism, Postmodernism and History was set to "force a revision of most of our accepted ideas on the eighteenth century" while also suggesting "that intellectual history may soon take the place of fiction and biography as the single most important form of English prose."
Although past review books have varied from sci-fi and comedy to murder mystery and city guides, the latest block of thinly sliced tree to pop through the door doesn't feature a) aliens; b) bosoms (always funny); c) Angela Lansbury (or any of her peers), or: d) where the best pubs are.
What we do get is the best part of 260 pages of little writing, a further 70 pages of notes and several index pages.
Despite trying really, really hard, any desire to produce a review faltered after, er, page two. To quote author Jonathan Clark: "To have a sense of the numinous and unextinguished quality of objects and places is a frequent and normal part of human experience; and this sense is generally held to be a reaction to the historical rootedness of things themselves."
No, we don't know what it means either. Suffice to say, the book has been given its coat and sent outside to wait for its taxi home. A more glamorous cousin of the tome is set to appear shortly, hopefully with at least two of the four prerequisites mentioned above.
Our Shadowed Present . . . by Jonathan Clark is released on July 10, (£25 hardback). lowculture is updated daily and is free. We hope the choice is simple.
*My conclusion: Nothing more or less than two Euros change every time, regardless of which two-figure note is handed over.