Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Lempriere's Dictionary and "Jah" Lawrence Norfolk

I've owned a copy of this large tome by Lawrence Norfolk for quite a few years; since I spotted it in a charity shop, in fact.
I have to confess to not having read it, I tried but wasn't in the right frame of mind at the time. Or perhaps Jah Lawrence (as we called him back in the long lost days of adolescence partially spent in his typically slum-like bedroom above the railway line in Bath) is simply too clever and/or well educated for the likes of me.

There is, of course, a "but" to this piece of Millbrooker drivelling, so..... But - after several days of being virtually snowed-in at our Breton hideaway, Mrs The Millbrooker had read everything she'd brought along with her and two books that I'd finished (J.M. Coetzee's "Disgrace" and Patrick Suskind's very odd "Perfume", thanks for asking).

She picked Jah Lawrence's first novel from the shelf where it's languished unread for six years or more and is now thoroughly enjoying it. Once she's finished I'm just going to have to get around to starting it again - and this time finishing it as well.
So - just in case the no-longer-quite-so-young Jah Lawrence ever reads this piece of nonsense (probably by virtue of Googling himself), it might be very nearly twenty years since the publication of Lempriere's Dictionary and much longer than that since we last met, but he can rest assured that I'll be joining his readership shortly. I'll let you know what I think of it in the next thrilling instalment of this two-part series.

Just in case anyone was wondering why so august a person as the highly rated novelist Mr Norfolk should have been known by the name "Jah" way back when: it's because he laboured under the illusion, during his later teenage years, that he was black . The only evidence for this being that he could roll a tremendous Camberwell Carrot which in those days was considered a speciality of Rastafarians only.

Lawrence Norfolk is, clearly, not black. We tried to tell him, you know, but he just wouldn't listen.
You can buy your own copy of Lempriere's Dictionary here.

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