25 Following


The Last Englishman: The Life of J.L.Carr - Byron Rogers j.L.Carr

"He was the Last Englishman"

I first became aware of [a:J.L. Carr|34170|J.L. Carr|/assets/nophoto/nophoto-M-50x66-e07624dc012f2cce49c7d9aa6500c6c0.jpg] having read his novel "[b:A Month in the Country|60707|A Month in the Country|J.L. Carr|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320436385s/60707.jpg|2825054]". It is one of the best books I have ever read. It is rare that I have felt so powerfully affected by a story. In short, it's a masterpiece, and one that I look forward to re-reading. A few days after finishing "[b:A Month in the Country|60707|A Month in the Country|J.L. Carr|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320436385s/60707.jpg|2825054]", I read another [a:J.L. Carr|34170|J.L. Carr|/assets/nophoto/nophoto-M-50x66-e07624dc012f2cce49c7d9aa6500c6c0.jpg] novel "[b:The Harpole Report|3118291|The Harpole Report|J.L. Carr|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1238099134s/3118291.jpg|3149617]" - a very different book, both in terms of style and content, but a great read. So, by now, I was very intrigued by J.L. Carr. Who was he? How did he come to write two such contrasting books? Fortunately his friend, and journalist, Byron Rogers wrote this biography of J.L. Carr that was published in 2003.

I am very grateful to Byron Rogers for such a readable and thorough account of the unusual [a:J.L. Carr|34170|J.L. Carr|/assets/nophoto/nophoto-M-50x66-e07624dc012f2cce49c7d9aa6500c6c0.jpg]. I tend to overuse the word maverick, however can confidently label [a:J.L. Carr|34170|J.L. Carr|/assets/nophoto/nophoto-M-50x66-e07624dc012f2cce49c7d9aa6500c6c0.jpg] as a maverick. In short he was brought up in a staunchly Methodist, and deeply religious, family in the North East of England; he was a teacher, and head teacher; was a photographer in the RAF during the war; spent time in South Dakota teaching; played amateur football; campaigned for the preservation of a disused village church; and, upon retiring, became both a writer and a publisher. That, however, is but a fraction of what defined this fascinating character. It is his intellect, idiosyncrasies, values, determination, and originality, that make this book worth reading. Not only are all his novels biographical, and therefore this biography provides helpful and illuminating insights, his is also one of the most unusual lives I can imagine - despite hiding behind a facade of profound ordinariness. [a:J.L. Carr|34170|J.L. Carr|/assets/nophoto/nophoto-M-50x66-e07624dc012f2cce49c7d9aa6500c6c0.jpg] died on 26 February 1994, and that was, to quote Byron Rogers, "the last day of his life and the only one in which he had not been fully conscious."

I will be reading the rest of [a:J.L. Carr|34170|J.L. Carr|/assets/nophoto/nophoto-M-50x66-e07624dc012f2cce49c7d9aa6500c6c0.jpg]'s novels, and my enjoyment and understanding will be greatly enhanced by this splendid biography. I heartily recommend it: interesting and inspiring.

Finally, I should mention that The Quince Tree Press, J.L. Carr's small publishing company, is still in business, and is run by J.L. Carr's son and daughter-in-law. All J.L. Carr's novels are available, in addition to to a range of pocket books, and J.L. Carr's maps of English counties. I intend to foist them on my friends and relatives at Christmas and/or on their birthdays.