Published Aug 2012
In his new book John Sutherland looks back to the magic of twenty-five experiences of books, films, plays, songs, paintings, landscapes, sounds, tastes and smells which took him by surprise, sank into his memory and shaped his life. What did they mean then, and why later when understood better did they sometimes mean less? John Sutherland recaptures the excitement of entering the adventurous worlds of Edgar Wallace, Dennis Wheatley, the Amazing Wilson, the Yellow Peril and the Tenement Kid. We follow him on his quest to Paris for the illegal fruits of Lady Chatterley’s Lover and The 120 Days of Sodom, watch as the enchantments of Huxley, Hoggart and On the Waterfront wither before his colder eye, and with him rediscover the redeeming value of Great Expectations and Montserrat’s Cruel Sea. He sees as many versions of himself as of anything else. ‘That our cultural experiences are timebound,’ he writes, ‘is a truism. But books, films, music and landscapes mean different things at different times of our lives. We consume them and, mysteriously, they define us at the moment of that consumption.’ Arranged chronologically and life-dated, John Sutherland’s moments are moving, funny and sharply realised. He offers insights into the nature of cultural experience and everyday life of a kind that we will all instantly recognise and share.