An Encyclopaedia of Myself
‘Nothing wilfully invented. Memory invents unbidden.’ The 1950s were not grey. In Jonathan Meades’s detailed, petit-point memoir they are luridly polychromatic. They were peopled by embittered grotesques, bogus majors, vicious spinsters, reckless bohos, pompous boors, suicides. Death went dogging everywhere. Salisbury, where he was brought up, had two industries: God and the Cold War, both of which provided a cast of adults for the child to scrutinise – desiccated God-botherers on the one hand, gung-ho chemical warriors on the other. The title is grossly inaccurate. This book is, rather, a portrait of a disappeared provincial England, a time and place unpeeled with gruesome relish.
The result is a dazzling confection of grown-up sophistication and schoolboy intensity of feeling. Meades may be pushing 70 years old, but like a more literate William Brown or an angrier Nigel Molesworth, he is still energetically kicking at everything that comes his way. – Jane Shilling in The Telegraph 05/05/14.
Think Like a Freak
The Year of Reading Dangerously