Saturday, November 15, 2014

John Lawton

John Lawton has written seven Inspector Troy thrillers, two standalone novels, and a volume of history, and has edited several English writers (Wells, Conrad, D. H. Lawrence) for Everyman Classics. His thriller Black Out won a WH Smith Fresh Talent Award, A Little White Death was named a New York Times notable book, and his latest Troy novel A Lily of the Field was named one of the best thrillers of the year by the New York Times. His recent novels include Then We Take Berlin, the first book to feature Joe Wilderness, and the newly released Sweet Sunday.

Recently I asked Lawton about what he was reading. The author's reply:
I’ve just finished The Bone Clocks by the English novelist David Mitchell. It can be tough going in places, but all his work is worth the effort. Like Cloud Atlas this one defies categorisation and shows a similar ability to create different, convincing narrators within a single book. I don’t think he’s won a major Lit prize yet, and didn’t make the Booker short list with The Bone Clocks.

The day will come.

I’m just into John Lahr’s biography of Tennessee Williams, Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh. Been a while since I last read a Lahr biography (I think it was his life of Joe Orton) but he is without equal at what he does. Lahr is an American, but I think has been a long time UK resident. He is the son of the Cowardly Lion, Bert Lahr.

TW probably kick-started me on grown-up reading when I was about thirteen. When I was twenty I suggested I might write my MA thesis on TW and got the reply. “Do we pull the wings off butterflies?”

I scoured the BBC’s archive to find the sound of his voice. There he is in 1978, crazy about the Beatles, soppy about 'Danny Boy', that wonderfully louche voice concealing a multitude of sins the interviewer is too uptight to mention. I never met him. Pity. I worked with Gore Vidal, who knew Tennessee well and was most certainly not too uptight to ask the questions, and he told me outrageous stories about him. Knew all the sins of the flesh. 'Nuff said.
Visit John Lawton's website.

The Page 69 Test: Then We Take Berlin.

Writers Read: John Lawton (October 2013).

--Marshal Zeringue