March 16, 2009

Aren't you rather young to be dying?

'Mr Johnson is a writer of some potential virtue; but this doesn't mean we must yet dote upon his doodles and he does seem perversely bent on making "experiments" of no conclusive, or even incidental interest.'
Guardian review of a B. S. Johnson radio play, 1965, quoted in Like a Fiery Elephant: the story of B. S. Johnson, Jonathan Coe p183
Halfway through the book, which is very good, but know how it ends.

It's a little depressing because there's no posthumous victory. This is true both in general and specifically. 1) You can't enjoy success after death because you're dead. 2) Unlike Kafka, B. S. Johnson's work doesn't rise after his death, and it never will - it's not that good.

More in another post or two, as there's a lot that can be teased out of the story, but expect Coe will do that as Johnson's own narrative begins to unravel.

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