Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Harpole and Foxberrow General Publishers - J.L. Carr

I read Carr's 'A Month in the Country' a couple of years ago courtesy of my postal book group and promptly fell in love with it. It's thanks to the same book group that I've finally got round to reading another Carr but this one is a very different beast.

Where my memories of 'A Month in the Country' are of a quiet masterpiece dealing in love and recovery of self I really have no idea what to make of 'Harpole & Foxberrow General Publishers' except that it's funny. It was the last book that Carr wrote, it was published by his own press, and appears to use the characters from his previous novels. To really appreciate it you almost certainly have to have read those novels, and as the only one I'm familiar with seems to be the one least referred to it sometimes became a bit confusing. 

I'm assuming that what Carr wanted to do with 'Harpole and Foxberrow' was revisit old characters and have a bit of fun with them whilst sharing some of his own reminiscences about a life in publishing. Even without any knowledge of his previous work, and with no very clear plot, it was still funny enough to hook me in and make me read to the end. In a perfect world I'd have the leisure to work my way through Carr's entire back catalogue and then revisit this one to see how many more jokes I could spot and hope that all the other details might become clear too in the process. As it is I probably won't do that because time is short and my book collection feels like it's breathed out. Sometimes the shelves seem to just about contain them but not at the moment. There are books everywhere; under, on, and in, everything. It's become so daunting a situation I may even stop buying them for a while - at least until I feel like the flat has metaphorically breathed in again and I have the illusion of control once more. 


  1. I loved "Harpole and Foxberrow". I work in a copyright library so the sections related to their "abuse" of copyright made me howl. Wonderfully funny book.

  2. That was very funny indeed, it was the bits like that that kept me reading!