Monday, August 1, 2011

The Debrief Recommends: Existential Ennui

A few months ago, I chanced across the blog Existential Ennui because it contained a very interesting guest essay about Dennis Wheatley by literary critic Michael Barber (whose excellent Paris Review interview with Kingsley Amis from 1975 can be read here). I was intrigued not just by the essay but by the subject matter of the blog, which seemed to range over a great deal of British and American fiction, including some rather obscure thriller-writers.

The site is run by editor and bibliophile Nick Jones. And as Nick has since very generously reviewed my own work, so I thought it was high time I pointed out his own. Today he has posted the first part of an exclusive interview with spy novelist Anthony Price - this is a real coup, as to my knowledge there are no other interviews with Price online, which is somewhat surprising considering how prolific he was. Price, like Joseph Hone, Adam Hall, Geoffrey Rose and several other brilliant British thriller-writers, has been sadly rather forgotten since the end of the Cold War, and it's fascinating to read his thoughts on publishing days gone by. Price also holds a secondary role in the thriller genre, I think, as a reviewer: I have dozens of books that have quotes from his Oxford Mail reviews on the covers. Indeed, as he tells Nick, it was through his reviewing that he came to fiction. Price's novels were, I've always felt, very English, and Nick's interview with him almost reads like a scene from one of his novels. In the second part, he has some great stories about the likes of Kingsley Amis and Terence Stamp.

Anyway, bookmark Existential Ennui if you're interested in thoughtful reviews, interviews and insights into book collecting and 20th-century publishing and design. You won't regret it.