The Lowlife (The London Fiction Series)

by Alexander Baron | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 1860468292 Global Overview for this book
Registered by Gooner of March, Cambridgeshire United Kingdom on 1/16/2004
Buy from one of these Booksellers: | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon IT |
2 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by Gooner from March, Cambridgeshire United Kingdom on Friday, January 16, 2004
Pre-numbered label used for registration.

Journal Entry 2 by Gooner at Caffe Nero IP1 book-crossing zone in Ipswich, Suffolk United Kingdom on Sunday, March 12, 2006

Released 13 yrs ago (3/11/2006 UTC) at Caffe Nero IP1 book-crossing zone in Ipswich, Suffolk United Kingdom



Journal Entry 3 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Monday, March 13, 2006
Thanks for this Gooner - i'll give it a go as it comes so highly recommended ;)

It was good to see you at the Ipswich meet-up, I hope you managed your public trainsport challenge with books and shopping bags. It's not an olympic sport yet, but it could be...?

Journal Entry 4 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Sunday, May 21, 2006
First, thank you to Gooner for finding this for me, not so much a literary gem, as an oddity, and a great invocation of a time and a place; London in the early 60’s (mostly Hackney but also other villages north, east and west). Harryboy Boas is a middle-aged inveterate gambler, Jewish by birth, and a solo, phlegmatic drifter by inclination.

Harryboy’s exasperated brother-in-law sums it up beautifully, in a very funny Jewish/Yiddish way, ‘A man of forty-five. Have you got a wife? A home have you got? In Hackney he lives. In one stinking room. Hackney, he still lives there. Genius. A fine upstanding Jewish boy. My brother-in-law. A credit to me Thank you.’

There’s quite a good underlying story about Harryboy’s developing relationship with a couple of neighbours and their young son who move into his building, or tenement as he calls it. They get too close to him and upset his well-ordered chaotic lifestyle, until he eventually runs away, but only after performing a very unselfish act, and making (failed) preparations for a second grand act of largesse.

The book is interesting on all sorts of levels; the lost culture & communities (I especially liked the Jewish language, obsession with ‘form’ and food!), the anarchic lifestyle of a gambler, and the deeper levels of Harryboy’s lost child, his search for some meaning in his life, possibly as a result of a sort of post-war or post-Holocaust trauma?

And lastly, no doubt picked up by Gooner a quote about readers and reading vis a vis the pathetic hen-pecked husband who latches himself on to Harryboy. They are both big readers, the former as a form of escapism, and the latter to pass the time, as an ‘analgesic ritual’ (from Iain Sinclair’s erudite and thorough introduction).

‘Among the uneducated...the serious reader is a lonely person. He goes about among the crowds with his thoughts stuffed inside him.’

OK, I lied, the last word goes to Harryboy, a flawed character, but ultimately he has our sympathy, and who are we to judge? His heart is in the right place, he lives by his own code of conduct, he doesn’t want to hurt other people, no-one can be as unhappy or unfulfilled as The Lowlife (in Sinclair’s words he is, ‘...detached, an observer. He’s damaged; compensating for events in his own past which have left him with a nagging sense of loss.’) To paraphrase, ‘such is his form’.


Going back home to Gooner for her private can take the girl out of the city, but you can't take the city out of the girl!

Journal Entry 6 by Gooner from March, Cambridgeshire United Kingdom on Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Thanks - the lowlife arrived safely on my doorstep. I don't suppose I'll say that too often ... or too loudly!

But yes: you're right!

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