Like a Fiery Elephant: The Story of B.S. Johnson (2020)

Like a Fiery Elephant: The Story of B.S. Johnson Jonathan Coe Like a Fiery Elephant The Story of B S Johnson In his heyday during the s and early s B S Johnson was one of the best known young novelists in Britain A passionate advocate for the avant garde in both literature and film he became famou
  • Title: Like a Fiery Elephant: The Story of B.S. Johnson
  • Author: Jonathan Coe
  • ISBN: 9780826418463
  • Page: 469
  • Format: Paperback
Like a Fiery Elephant: The Story of B.S. Johnson Jonathan Coe In his heyday, during the 1960s and early 1970s, B S Johnson was one of the best known young novelists in Britain A passionate advocate for the avant garde in both literature and film, he became famous not to say notorious both for his forthright views on the future of the novel and for his idiosyncratic ways of putting them into practice But in November 1973 JohIn his heyday, during the 1960s and early 1970s, B S Johnson was one of the best known young novelists in Britain A passionate advocate for the avant garde in both literature and film, he became famous not to say notorious both for his forthright views on the future of the novel and for his idiosyncratic ways of putting them into practice But in November 1973 Johnson s lifelong depression got the better of him, and he was found dead at his north London home He had taken his own life at the age of forty.Jonathan Coe s biography is based upon unique access to the vast collection of papers Johnson left behind after his death, and upon dozens of interviews with those who knew him best As unconventional in form as one of its subject s own novels, it paints a remarkable picture sometimes hilarious, often overwhelmingly sad of a tortured personality a man whose writing tragically failed to keep at bay the demons that pursued him.
Like a Fiery Elephant: The Story of B.S. Johnson Jonathan Coe

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One thought on “Like a Fiery Elephant: The Story of B.S. Johnson

  1. Paul Bryant

    The Painful and Instructive Case of B S Johnson, who never saw a Garde he didn t want to AvantThere s a very interesting strand of literary biography emerging these days and this is a great example Another of this type would be Roger Lewis crazy Anthony Burgess and Norman Sherry s three part, 2251 page bio of Graham Greene In these biographies the biographer himself appears on the page, he shows you around, he moans about the lack of information about those crucial months in 1951, he tells you a [...]

  2. MJ Nicholls

    As writers, we are overly conscious of our foibles and traits where we see ourselves on the great graph of dysfunction On the page, I have walked the perilous road of selfconscious indulgence, of postmodern pretention I have written dozens of stories, and two novels, that collapse into self referential revelation pure spits of Johnson s own plea FUCK ALL THIS LYING I have stepped onto the stage like a shy schoolboy and told my embarrassed audience I have nothing to say except how much I hate mys [...]

  3. Rick

    Unlucky early in love and unlucky in career minor fame, piss poor book sales , B S Johnson was lucky, very lucky, in biographer Jonathan Coe s justly acclaimed biography is a wonderful, insightful, measured, respectful, yet unflinching look at the life of England s experimental novelist and gadfly of the 60s and very early 70s Johnson was than a bit of a paradox, a reactionary member of the avant garde, conservative in many things but not in politics or art He lived with a chip on his shoulder [...]

  4. Robert Ronsson

    Before I read this book I had never heard of BS Johnson I vaguely remember something about a book in a box where the chapters where bound separately and could be read in any order but I didn t know the author s name I am a fan of Jonathan Coe s novels My first experience of his work was What a Carve Up and I recognised several elements in its structure and plotline that made me regard the author as a soulmate His other novels House of Sleep, Rotters Club, The Closed Circle and The Rain Before it [...]

  5. Veronica

    It s a bit strange reading a biography of a writer whose work you have never read In fact if it wasn t for Jonathan Coe being one of my favourite writers, I d never even have heard of BSJ.This is an intriguing biography, as unconventional as its subject It took Coe years to write, and he became quite enmeshed in Johnson s strange life He was an odd man Staggeringly rude to publishers who failed to recognise his self evident genius, he often started on projects only to have them rejected As a wor [...]

  6. Steven

    Bryan Stanley Johnson did not write ordinary novels so it s fitting that this is no ordinary biography Jonathan Coe unfurls the life of BS Johnson through summaries of his work, extracts from the author s novels, poems, articles and correspondence and selected interview statements from people close to our Bryan.Despite publishing seven novels the term fiction must be used with caution where Johnson is concerned His mantra was telling stories is telling lies and his attempts to present the truth [...]

  7. Steph Bennion

    This is best biography I ve read to date B.S Johnson comes across as a man full of inner conflicts even if he did come across as a bit arrogant at times and as an important yet sadly overlooked literary icon who worked hard at pushing the novel into new forms Jonathan Coe is also one of my favourite writers and this biography is a fitting tribute and a well researched book about the man This is highly recommended for anyone who likes writer biographies.

  8. Maureen

    Amazingly, this biography was so good that I was gripped all the way through, even though Johnson wasn t that great a writer and didn t seem like a particularly nice man It s his high ambitions and his failures to achieve them that are so touching and compelling, both as a writer and as a person And that s Coe s focus this isn t a hagiography, but a study of the goals that Johnson set himself and the extent to which he did or didn t achieve them.

  9. Noah

    An interesting style in biography, seemingly bridging the formal gap between literary criticism and literary biography, as well as rich in authorial interaction with the subject Coe, however, seems to fall short in a few places, leaving much of Johnson s biography untouched, and much criticism of his works unrefined The product is, as Johnson himself despised as a label for his work, experimental, albeit interesting.

  10. Mark

    I could pick threads with this, biography lets not He depicts a monstrous man, who was apparently a teddy bear John Berger hits the nail as does Gordon Williams, very few other contributors seem to get him, which speaks volumes as to the cod mystique motive involving his last momentswhy did I feel Jonathon Cole didn t really get himor did he

  11. Eugene

    didn t finish it but it did make me think a bit about johnson and the life of an experimental novelist and, like pound sd to williams you don t have to finish everything don t tell people i said so skimmed though and did check the index and read all the entries where beckett comes up he comes off rather well one of the main conflicts in the book, introduced in full self awareness in an early chapter, is coe s conflict, his torturedness even, about the traps and hypocrisies of writing a literary [...]

  12. Aaron (Typographical Era)

    opinionless Like A Fiery Elephant is the best biography ever written about the life of Bryan Stanley Johnson, but I immediately know what you re thinking who From the introduction, where Coe explains how he first encountered the work of B.S Johnson and declares It seems, nowadays, that literature is discussed than ever before but at the same time, it has never been less valued to the chilling reveal in the closing chapter of the book titled Coda, Coe creates a vivid portrait of who Johnson was [...]

  13. Rob

    It s very hard to think of a accomplished biography than this one and much of that is down to Coe, who proves to be a sensitive narrator of Johnson s life and legacy.On the basis of my reading ofThe UnfortunatesandChristie Malry s Own Double Entryalone, the author s obscure reputation is indeed undeserved and it s heartening to know that the publication of Coe s study a few years back led to a reappraisal of the man s literary standing even if, as my friend Grace McInnes remarks, a shadow is ca [...]

  14. Rory

    I m still trying to get over this I ve been borderline obsessed w this book for the past 5 days and now that it s finished I m not sure what I m going to do Well, that s not true, I need to read fuckin Paradise Lost for uni, but then what Honestly, this has kind of revolutionised the way I think about writing Not wholly thanks to BSJ himself, but J Coe instead LAFE is probably the best character study I ve ever read because it s true, I m sure BSJ would be very quick to point out and the writing [...]

  15. Derek Baldwin

    Apart from passing references, and having vaguely heard of the novel published loose leaf in a box, I knew nothing of B S Johnson before reading this absorbing and very moving biography By the time the text ended, with the sadly inevitable denouement followed by the deeply affecting 44 voices memorial section and the lost fragments at the very end, I felt that I had really come to know him Johnson is captured in great detail, humanely but honestly, his faults and foibles and paranoia are not glo [...]

  16. Becky

    As a biography it s structurally interesting as are many of Coe s novels , but I m not into B.S Johnson His life seems kind of interesting, but his work Sounds like an old fashioned schoolboy over his head in trying to impress everyone with his wit Old fashioned as in bordering on Monty Python esque indifference to racism and sexism the political issues of his day I guess what I was interested in with this biography were the contradictions between his perception of himself his work and everyone [...]

  17. Tara

    A literary biography of experimental British writer B.S Johnson in which the author mimics some of Johnson s stylistic tricks and fragmented writing in telling his subject s story Entertaining and informative.

  18. John

    Fittingly for the subject a biography written in a completely different format Has prompted me to get hold of some of his work and read them properly.

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