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Impressions and Expressions of Ijon
February 11th, 2010
05:31 am


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Clinging to the Wreckage / John Mortimer
Like most people, I came to know John Mortimer's works through his Rumpole series (the books, not the TV series). I came to appreciate his comic genius, his profoundly humanistic and unsanctimonious attitude to life, and was intrigued by the title of this slim autobiographical volume.

Mortimer tells of his lonely but privileged childhood, his domineering, odd, and immensely influential father, his awkward relationship with his mother, and his gradual, late development into a grown-up.

We are treated to brief but effective depictions of life in Harrow, then Oxford, then the law courts, then the theater, Paris, Hollywood and Italy, and while the descriptions are certainly subjective and do not mean to encompass the entire era, they do in fact double as capsules of bygone days, of the UK in the middle decades of the 20th century.

Mortimer tells it like it was, admitting weakness and failure alongside triumph and elation, and manages to be candid, amusing, touching, and brief. I look forward to reading more of his nonfiction, alongside his excellent fiction and plays.

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