Described as the Holy Grail of Beatnik (and Mod) novels, Terry Taylor’s only published book, unavailable for decades, documents one summer in the life of the unnamed sixteen year-old narrator. Leaving his home and job he dabbles with spiritualism, is seduced by an older woman and moves into dealing dope. His London is sharp suits, jazz, drugs, “spades”, nightclubs, sex....
|Title||:||Baron's Court, All Change|
|Number of Pages||:||240 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Baron's Court, All Change Reviews
Stewart Home has been raving about "Baron's Court, All Change" by Terry Taylor for a long time now. Well, he's a man of great taste, and this novel is a superb snapshot of London circ. very late 1950's. The narrative is a page-turner, but what is really great is the language -especially coming the main character, who has a way with British slang unlike the futuristic Alex from "A Clockwork Orange." Our teenage hero is totally over 'normal' life, yet he's still from that world and is quite sweet. But with the introduction of Charge (pot) and his love of Jazz music - he goes into the world of modern jazz and pot dealing. Taylor wrote this novel when he was quite young, yet the writing and his observations are very sharp. This book is very much a proto-mod attitude towards life, music, drugs, and the need to break away. Fascinating work!
Good on New London Editions for re-issuing this Angry Young Mod classic. It was pretty good, a real time capsule of a very specific era, that second just before the 60's exploded and you didn't have to pretend to like jazz anymore. It captured that disgust and mockery at suburban banality you felt at 16 really well, and had I read this when I was 16 I might've loved it, but it has dated quite a bit, was trying a bit too hard (especially the pot party) and I can't be hearing about spades and ponces without being grateful that times have changed. Kind of a British response to the Beats then, but not a patch on Saturday Night & Sunday Morning or Billy Liar in terms of writing or depth, thoroughly enjoyable anyway.
Terry Taylor did it all. He was the model for the unnamed narrator of Absolute Beginners, did some serious work in drugs and magic (taking up from Berber practices he picked up in Tangier), hung out with William Burroughs, listened to a lot of cool modern jazz, was the original mod before the term was even being used... and wrote this book, the first British novel to mention LSD, as well as having a drug dealing narrator who wants to spend his profits the cool way, on jazz and shirts from Cecil Gee! All in all a complete groove sensation! For a more detailed look at the book go here: http://www.stewarthomesociety.org/sex...
As Stewart Home emphasises in his introduction, Baron’s Court, All Change is something of a lost cut classic. Precisely how it came to disappear from the face of the planet for some forty-odd years is rather difficult to explain, but disappear it did. After its initial publication in 1961 and republication four years later, this first-hand account of the hippest cats on the drug-fuelled London Jazz scene at its most swinging, which drew a readership at the time and has obvious and broad appeal since as a historical work, fell not only out of print but out of memory. Taylor’s first-person narrative has a conversational quality to it, and while he’s not big on detailed description, with some of the writing appearing rather hurried and a shade rough in the editing, these are actually endearing qualities and he draws vivid, earthy pen-sketches of 1950s suburban life in just a few simple lines.His teenage frustration with suburban tedium and conformity still resonates now, and while some of the writing has a hurried, pulpy quality and many of the characters are little more than sketched pen-portraits, Taylor’s narrator is multi-faceted and displays a surprising degree of emotional depth. This is one of the book’s real strength, as the narrator portrays life as an insider but also an outsider in different social circles, and reveals the dichotomy between family ties and friendship in what could reasonably be called a ‘coming of age’ tale with a real warmth. Some of the lingo is as priceless as it is necessarily dated, and so many of the cats are digging the scene, wigged by all the charge they’re smoking and the swinging tunes that if it had been written thirty years later it would seem parodic. But at the same time, the overall narrative style is remarkably contemporary and is striking in just how fresh it seems, and Taylor’s turn of phrase is credible and naturalistic in a colloquial way (for example, after an argument with his mother, the narrator immediately feels guilty, and writes ‘I felt like a right cunt’).The insight Baron’s Court gives into the drug culture of the period is also illuminating, and while most of the characters are strictly hash smokers (the book could almost as readily have been called Baron’s Court, All Charge), LSD does receive a mention (the first in a work of literature) and heroin also features prominently.‘Junkies fascinated me from the start and I found out all I could about them... His thing isn’t a kick, it’s a way of life,’ recounts the narrator around halfway through, at the same time echoing Burroughs’ line ‘Junk is not, like alcohol or weed, a means to increased enjoyment of life. Junk is not a kick. It is a way of life.’ I can’t help but wonder how much information would have been available about junkies at the time, and would contend it’s not unreasonable to assume that Taylor had read Burroughs’ debut novel Junkie, published in 1953 in the US with a first UK edition, published by Digit Books of London in 1957. The text may not have been widely known, but hipsters have, as Baron’s Court reminds us, always been two steps ahead of the trend. At a couple of hundred pages in length, Barons’ Court is a quick and straightforward read, and without doubt this is one of its great achievements. Whereas so many other books on drugs and drug culture are dry and unappetising and judgemental or otherwise agenda-driven, Taylor’s novel is vibrant, lively and above all entertaining.
A book that vanished almost as soon as it was published, "Baron's Court, All Change" has become a sort of Holy Grail of Beat and Mod Lit. For anyone interested in British counterculture of the '50s and '60s, it offers an unromanticized look at the hippest jazz clubs, the ins-and-outs of selling pot, and race and class relations. More than a sharp sociological snapshot, it's also a charming page turner that charts our teenage narrator as he breaks out of suburbia and makes his way in Not Yet Swinging London. Rather than the cliched rebel, he's a sweet kid with an interest in spiritualism who likes his family but sees through the stifling social norms of the time. The skillful use of slang throughout charges the otherwise pedestrian prose. It sports a great intro by the book's champion, Stewart Home. For better insights and more information than this review provides: http://www.stewarthomesociety.org/sex...
London 1961. Jazz clubs, hustling, getting on the tube, family trouble.Very cool. Recommended for hipsters of any age, anywhere. Absolutely loved it from beginning to end.