I understand he can be considered a difficult figure in hindsight, but one time I saw Norman Mailer read, in Los Angeles, and that, alongside the time I was alongside Cardinal Mahoney, retrospectively considered a difficult figure too, in the line at Starbucks on the estate of José Rafael Moneo’s lush Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, I can safely say, on those occasions I felt like I was in the presence of greatness.
Digression alert: I get that it is the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, but could it not have been called Cathedral of the Mother of God? A perhaps more significant role after all. Not that I want to take on the whole catholic church on earth right here. Just sounds so much better in an Irish accent.
Look, sometimes I get books that are autographed by their authors. More often they're not. And I am unsure I understand the enthusiasm for the autographed thing. What is it? Lake, our short film expert editor, musician, writer, actor, archivist, chief cook and all that, convinced me years ago of the value some attach to standing in the proximity or the stead, of where the artist stood, when they made their masterpieces. Or where they must stand to sign their name. I was recently at the Mauritshaus in Den Haag, two feet away from mind compulsion gaze of The Girl in the Pearl Earring, gladdened by the sight of Fabritius’s The Goldfinch, indulged in Clara Peeters’ Still Life with Cheeses, Almonds and Pretzels (mouthwatering) and marveled at the magnitude of Paulus Potter’s Young Bull (a favorite). I was kind of standing where these very fine artists stood while making these astonishing works. Nope, I felt nothing like an artist at all. And actually, I suppose I wasn’t two feet away from the Girl with the Pearl Earring, I saw it from three or four metres removed, seeing it around and through some heads. I got in my 14 seconds near a great painting, as the world does, and moved along.
For whatever reason then, I don’t know, Outsideleft as an entity woke up on Friday and decided that the sunny morning was just perfect to have Wayne Dean-Richards pop over to sign a strictly limitedTM number of copies of his forthcoming poetry collection, It’s A Mad World But Funny (Outsideleft Booklets, September ‘23). What this means is that you the happy shopper poetry consumer can hold your copy in roughly the same place as Wayne did while signing the book(let). But only if you are one of the early advanced orderers… It’s a Mad World should ship out mid September. And I am going to say that for £5 including shipping you will get a lot, that may not look much like it. Do it, pre-order it now. It’s beautifully portable, won’t ruin the line of your summer gear, it’s A6 dandy.
Oh on Mailer, well you know I think The Fight is one of the all time great books on sport. Wayne and I agree and can quote from it still. All this signing stuff has reminded me of how much I loved Norm's story about him signing copies of one of his later books; they arrived on a palette from China, he signed, signed and signed for days before the books were returned to the publisher for final assembly, for the gluing of the covers on in the USA. Wow! That’s not how we do it. But still. In so many respects a West Midlands garden and upstate New York, are they so dissimilar?
It's A Mad World But Funny by Wayne Dean Richards arrives in mid September
Read the poems online for free, beginning here