Posts Tagged ‘The Horse’s Mouth’

Blackpaint 596 – Bigfoot, Ginger Man and Newfoundland

May 9, 2017

Willow Creek (2013, dir. Bobcat Goldthwaite)

This is a film that must have cost next to nothing to make, being a found-footage horror film about a pair of seekers after Bigfoot, or the Sasquatch as it is known by cryptozoologists.  Actually, it’s not a pair of seekers – Jim is the obsessive, Kelly his girlfriend is along for the ride.

Very cheap and pretty much like a spoof, until they get deep in the woods.  There is then a sequence where they cower in their tent in the night, while something “vocalises”, hits sticks together and bashes against the tent.  It goes on for about 20 minutes and is riveting – well, terrifying.  Probably if I saw it again, it would be nothing, but first time round…

The real thing.. no, really

I’m avoiding cliches again, so I’ll just say one meets a sticky end and the other a fate worse than death.  Watch it if it shows up again (the film, not Bigfoot); I wouldn’t have persisted with it if I hadn’t seen two documentaries on the Discovery channel about the Dyatlov Pass Incident in the Urals in 1959, which led to the unexplained violent deaths of nine Russian students.  Anyway, good film, not to be watched before you go camping in the woods.

The Ginger Man, JP Donleavy

I’ve written about this quite shocking book before and have just finished it.  It ends with another burst of violence against a woman who has the gall to be defiant to the disgusting “hero”, Sebastian Dangerfield; he slaps her repeatedly, threatens to use his boots on her and she of course submits, agreeing to give up her career as an actress and become a willing sex-slave to this thug, who can’t countenance  a woman of “his” having any independence.  Every woman in the book submits willingly to him, despite his constant drunken state, violence and dirty, bizarre clothing and behaviour.  It’s written in a sub-Joycean style – rip-off, really, from the vernacular sections of Ulysses – that was, surprisingly, highly praised.

Really, what shocks me about it is that I read it back in the 60s, maybe 1968 – and I thought it was hilarious.  So did most others of my age who read it then, male and female.  Or at least, they don’t remember the violence.  I remembered the drunken parade in the kangaroo suit as if it was the main event; it lasts a few pages and results in an unconvincing pub brawl, with KOs and injuries.

So, it’s a book “of its time” – tells you a lot about our attitudes then; not only teenagers like me, but grown-up literary critics regarded it as a sort of bawdy, joyous, drunken “romp” and Dangerfield as an incorrigible, lovable rogue.  I think there are certain similarities in the eccentricities and makeshift nature of the surroundings to Joyce Carey’s hugely superior “The Horse’s Mouth”.

Two new pictures to end with; I’ve given up trying to pretend my abstracts don’t look like landscapes.  Haven’t done any exhibitions, having been stuck in a gallery for two weeks, staring at my own paintings…

The Banks of Newfoundland


Panamatic Isthmus



Blackpaint 65

February 11, 2010

Art in Fiction

First in an occasional series, has to be “The Horse’s Mouth” by Joyce Cary.  Published in 1944, it is one of the strangest books I’ve ever read – not because the events are so outlandish or surreal, but because of the dialogue and the characters.  They speak a strange mixture of slang and poetry but to my ears, like nothing I’ve come across, except maybe a little like cinema cockney of the period.  Perhaps its because Cary was an Irishman and as an outsider in South London heard things that natives would miss.  I found it sort of lumpy and difficult to read, but now remember more of it than many other novels I have read.

Briefly, its hero is Gulley Jimson (odd name for a start), who is an elderly, unscrupulous, poverty-stricken, “ex-jailbait” reprobate of a painter, who also happens to be a brilliant, uncompromising, visionary artist.  The descriptions he gives of his work – bearing in mind that he is an unreliable narrator – sound rather like Stanley Spencer.  here’s the poening paragraph, as a taste:  “I was walking by the Thames.  Half-past morning on an autumn day.  Sun in a mist.  Like an orange in a fried fish shop.  All bright below.  low tide, dusty water and a crooked bar of straw, chicken-boxes, dirt and oil from mud to mud.  Like a viper swimming in skim milk.  The old serpent, symbol of nature and love.”

Jimson lies, drinks, chisels and blags his way through life, remaining true only to his art.  The book ends very darkly indeed and it is difficult to pinpoint its tone.  the blurb on the back of the Penguin – Ivor Brown in the Observer – describes it as a “lively parade of gross and roaring Bohemian humours …… a nailer and a knockout”.

Listening to The Sun is Shining by Elmore James:

“The sun is shining, but you know its raining in my heart (*2)

You know I love you darlin’, but the best of friends must part”.