It is the freakishly hot, drought summer of 1921; dust storms in London, parched and cracking earth, autumn tints in July. Holed up in a cottage in the Chilterns, a young writer strives to write the first great novel of the War, impelled by his own suffering. Outward events and inner crises deflect him from his purpose, and love intervenes in the form of two very different women. A visit to the hallucinatory wreckage of post-war Flanders brings strange repercussions in its wake. Everyone is in some way damaged by the terrible years of the war; in what sense can art be made out of such horror? Adam Thorpe's novel seeks to touch the marrow of this jazz and death-haunted period, which was ironically the most excitingly creative period of the last century. In a language deeply soaked in the time and by means of a beguiling story which gradually haunts its own process, "Nineteen Twenty-One" vividly recreates the year in which "The Waste Land" was written, as well as offering a bright mirror to the inner and outer complexities of our own troubled times.
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(197mm x 130mm x 25mm)
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Country of Publication:
UK Kirkus Review »
Nineteen Twenty-One was the year of first publication of T S Eliot's The Waste Land, a year therefore with perhaps some resonance for a poet like Adam Thorpe; and Eliot has an off-stage part in this darkly humorous novel concerned with the failure of the creative process in the aftermath of a war no one thought would ever be topped for slaughter and destruction. Thorpe's fine observation of language and dialect is coupled with a sure touch when it comes to character in the thoughts of Joseph Monrow, an intense, and intensely self-absorbed, young would-be novelist, as he indulges himself in a good old-fashioned artistic struggle during the writing of his First World War opus. Joseph's great novel of the Great War seems motivated more by a cathartic desire for vengeance at his accidental gassing than by artistic principled rage; and sadly, for all his picturesque separation from the world in a Chiltern cottage, his novel isn't much cop. Offered the chance to visit for the first time the killing fields of Ypres, Joseph finds himself in distant pursuit of Tillie, a girl on a pilgrimage to honour her lost brother, and in a strange meeting with a mystical German woman who believes that an act of love will refresh and heal. Thorpe, as you'd expect, has none of Joseph's creative problems, and walks the tightrope of writing about writing with perfect balance. Review by ALEX BENZIE. Editor's note: Alex Benzie is the author of The Angle of Incidence. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Adam Thorpe
Adam Thorpe is the author of three novels, three books of poetry and a volume of short stories. For the last ten years he has lived in southern France with his wife and three children.