Friday, 8 May 2009

JOHN HARVEY'S WEST: A 'Far Cry' Sidebar

Apropos of John Harvey's new novel, which is reviewed immediately below, and not coincidentally, he's written a nice piece in the Independent's 'Book Of A Lifetime' series, about Arthur Groom's Buffalo Bill's Wild West Annual. You can link to it here. As I may be one of the few people with a complete set of John's 'Hart the Regulator' series (there used to be this great stall in Camden Market selling westerns, just behind my buddy Eric selling bootleg CDs), which he wrote as John B Harvey, the initial providing added gravitas. One Hart novel took its title from a John Stewart song, as does this blog; it's nice to be reminded of John's taste in music as well as his cowboy pulp roots.

John's reminiscence reminded me of a similar series that used to be in the Village Voice, in which the poet John Ashberry wrote about the Book of Knowledge, an encyclopedia arranged by recurring topics, rather than alphabetically, and the wonder of reading it, start to finish, picking up knowledge at random, or really in circles, as you revisited themes. When I was a kid I had my uncles' old BofK, so I was probably reading the same edition he'd read as a kid, and I'd had that same sense of wonder, at truth being stranger and more interesting than fiction. That sense of wonder, fact or fiction, is what John's writing about in the Indy today.

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