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Vintage Stuff

Professor Thrupiece's early semi-autobiographical novel Cripplestyle Nights is to appear in a new edition from the Threadbone Press in their popularly-priced VINTAGE Series. The series - aimed at the general reader who is aspirational enough to know what he wants but too importunate to fund his ambitions [can we PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE avoid these gendered pronouns ... how many times? [Ed]] - was launched in 2017 with Mildred Dalrymple's 1934 classic Miss Otis Expects.

Cripplestyle Nights is, says literary critic Frank Commode, less a jolly good yarn than a study in literary persistence. Written when "the Professor had a great deal to say, but not always the means with which to say it", it was, he says "a struggle to write" and remains "a b****r to read". The book tells the story of a young man from the West Country and his travails as he strives to make his way in the Britain of the 1950s and 1960s - a time when genius was not always well-served and parochial values frequently held back the talents of the unconventional. Part rural and part urban in setting [the protagonist is surprisingly well-travelled], both elusively nostalgic and fiercely critical in feel, it is a portrait of a mind and a society in transition set against the background of post-War Dorset, Cambridge and London. Was our hero [or perhaps anti-hero, the tone is uncertain] a fifth columnist and the sixth man or perhaps some kind of informal double agent in league only with himself and a Cambridge laboratory-based double-spindle treadle-cranked fluff-separating sem-horizontal centrifuge? Rather like its title, the book is enigmatic to the point of obfuscation.

Questions will be asked as to whether a book of such sprawling hieratic imagination and ill-disciplined content is a vintage classic to rank beside - say - Dornford Sittingbourne's And Suddenly It's Summer, or Roberta ["Bob"] Danvers-Walker's trouser-splitting He Didn't Say Yes and He Didn't Say No, or whether its unconventional prose and often startlingly honest portrait of its times place it in another category entirely. Either way, it is good to have it back in circulation and we are once again in debt to The Threadbone Press for their adventurous [foolhardy? [Ed]] publishing choices. The cover - as always in this series, the best thing about the book - is by Pixie Layted of the GraFF-iK Design Studios.


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