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Saturday, November 19, 2005

Raban Redux

Fave blogger Grumpy Bookman, acerbic observer of my belovèd British book trade that kept me in a decade's cash and cuddles, spots Tim Appelo's piece on Jonathan Raban in our Seattle Weekly and puzzles "quite how and why the Seattle Weekly should be willing to devote so much space to an English writer, even if he does live in Seattle."

Well, I can enlighten.

First off, it was the excellent Mr Raban's Hunting Mr Heartbreak that 10 years ago brought me and mine from Hong Kong to Seattle rather than cultivate an English country garden in the wilds of High Wycombe or have my daughters grow up true Texans under the big-sky birthplace of the elder girl, San Antone.

Singing Tree coverThanks to involvement with the Northwest Bookfair, for which we lured the donnish Peter Moss from his Sooke-gazing eyrie to moderate a discussion, I got to meet Mr. Raban in the post-Fair Green Room booze up.

Not an easy man to hold in solo chat, lionized as he was by simpering literary groupies who hung on his every word, gushing over his nautical cap and cut-glass Britisher vowels.

But his time at the helm included putting into Sooke Harbour so we had an edge, holding his attention for a nano-second longer than would otherwise have been the case.

In local parlance américaine, le Raban "owns" our local Limey Lit space.

As for Mr Appelo, he too rules as Alpha Male reviewer and his time at Amazon has done him no harm.

I reviewed Raban's fine first novel and took time to read and re-read to fit my sentiments into the allotted wordage.

I was somewhat taken aback at a later Artdish knees-up to be asked if I'd read Waxwings

"Er ... Jim actually did me the honor of asking- "

"Oh, I read your review. I just wondered if you'd got round to reading it.".

Apparently, my laudatory notice was no proof whatsoever of having actually opened the book, such obsequy being natural and to have spoken in less than adoring tones social suicidal lèse majesté.

"Gosh, had I known that, I would have commented differently and put the boot in."

"Har har (if women *do* ha with anything so vulgar as a manly 'r'). See? That's what I like about you English, you have this amazing dry sense of humor."

Quite.

Indeed, I have since heard from "sources" that hell hath no fury than a rabid Raban scorned.


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