Thursday, 25 March 2010


My obituary of CDB Bryan, author of Friendly Fire, and the novel Beautiful Women, Ugly Scenes, is in today's Independent, you can link to it here. I remember being quite fond of Beautiful Women when I read it sometime in the 80s; as I wrote it, is a bleak and somewhat depressing book. Monocle magazine must have been a hoot; the editorial cast included Victor Navasky, Calvin Trillin, and Dan Wakefield along with Bryan. That would consititute a sort of cross-section of the New York literary Grub Street scene in the late 50s or early 60s.


St George Bryan said...

Thank for your thoughtful obit of my father. He would have loved to be remembered as "a jobbing writer in the élite literary milieu of New York, and a formidable and entertaining presence at the cocktail parties which are the currency of that world".
I owe you a story. In the late 1970's he was having a meal with Eric Idle and group of other rather long haired men their age. Dad held his own. Lots of laughs. Lots of drinks. Everyone said they're goodbyes and Dad turned to Idle and said he never caught the names of other men at the table.
Idle looked at him as if he were from another planet.
They were the Rolling Stones.

St George Bryan said...

As my father's son, I have to point out I made the catastrophic mistake of not checking what I had written before I posted it.
I can almost hear him groaning.
"Thanks" instead of "thank"
And "their goodbye" instead of "they're"

Michael Carlson said...

Thanks for the story: it makes perfect sense! I am glad you appreciated the obit--I think, if anything, I understated the importance of Friendly Fire in terms of signalling the mind-shift of, not Middle America, but upper-middle.

The Indy cut only a couple of lines, but one was about the litany of prep schools followed by entrance to Yale, and the other was listing the roster of Monocle.
Rightly, since none of the names would mean anything to Brits, and indeed, Navasky and Trillin are probably only known now within a small circle, and Wakefield, sadly
is sort of forgotten. Thinking abt it I suspect there would be an interesting comparison between some of Wakefield's novels and Beautiful Women Ugly Scenes....I can't recall which one's of his, but he and your father sort of approached from different angles with the same general mind set...maybe if I could find my Wakefield books in my brother's barn back in the States....

And my wife absolutely was enthralled by the cocktail shaker story: the man of her dreams in many ways!