Mr Wilder and Me by Jonathan Coe
6 minutes ago
...a nephew of hers, having caught sight in some book or other of a picture of the famous Czarina, used to call her in private "Catherine the Great": an unsuitable name made quite innocent by the complete purity of Concetta's life and her nephew's total ignorance of Russian history.But also sad. Sicily does not change; the poor remain poor; Don Fabrizio, sophisticated and learned, but saddled with estates he can do nothing with but sell off piecemeal, is replaced by a grand-nephew totally ignorant of Russian history. When a representative of the 'Piedmontese,' the king of a now-unified Italy, Victor Emmanuel, comes and offers Don Fabrizio a seat in the newly constituted Senate, Don Fabrizio refuses, for nothing can be done with Sicily. "They never want to improve. They think themselves perfect. Their vanity is greater than their misery."
The old stable outlines of the dear old linear novel have been sidestepped in favor of soft focus palimpsest which enables the actors to turn into each other, to melt into each other's inner lifespace if they wish.He says that like it's a good thing...
Dim pricks of blue light shone through the shutter's decorative punchwork. Careful not to wake her sister, Esther braced her hand against one door while she drew back the other. The wooden panel stuck a moment before popping free, letting in the damp, salty air and a view of purplish sky. To the east, the sun cast its first pink glow over the place where the mighty River Atil spilled into the Khazar Sea. Esther raced through her morning prayers, her voice a sibilant whisper.
"Ploss," said John Appleby, deliberately. "Philip Ploss, the Cow-and-Gate poet. Who would want, now, to shoot a quiet fellow like that?"But that (on page 8) is just about the last mystery-ish moment in this one. It's not giving away much to say he was killed by Nazi spies. It very quickly becomes a thrilling chase for a eccentric scientist with a formula through the Scottish highlands. Speedboats and airplanes--probably to get into the spirit of the thing I should say aeroplane--shootouts and slingshots, crofter's huts and lonely railway stations. A castle and a loch. If, as I said when I reviewed an Innes last week, he's an author that likes to have a model, the model for this one is John Buchan. Think The Thirty-Nine Steps. If it was filmed--and it could be!--it should be Alfred Hitchcock.
Here is our home, here is our native land!
Peaceful is the the first word which a house-agent would have chosen in describing the home of Philip Ploss.
"Ploss," said John Appleby deliberately. "Philip Ploss, the Cow-and-Gate poet. Who would want, now, to shoot a quiet fellow like that?"I guess I'm going to find out!