Bearing in mind that Michael Palin has literally travelled around the world and back (and them some),
you'd think that his debut novel might be, well, a little more exciting!
But far from setting it in hot-&-bothered LA or in and amongst the manic metropolis of Tokyo,
Michael's set this beautifully written novel in small-town England.
A modest story of humble proportions, Hemingway's Chair focuses on middle-aged man
who's the assistant postmaster in his town.
He loves where he lives yet he does have ambition,
but when the powers-that-be above him begin to make some fundamental changes to the way in
which the post office is run, Martin soon realises that promotion might come at a price.
Slowly but surely he watches on helplessly as the post office is modernised before his eyes,
which alienates many of the local people who prefer the good old fashioned post office practices.
All the while, Martin's interest in Ernest Hemingway and his work intensifies,
particularly when he meets an out-of-town lady who's in the area and who shares a
similar passion for the author.
As the story progresses, Martin begins to adopt certain Hemingway-endorsed characteristics,
and the Chair of the title refers to the fishing boat chair that Martin coincidentally sees
and attempts to save enough money to buy: a chair, no less, that Hemingway actually once sat in himself.
Like Hemingway did, Martin secretly pities some of the people he knows or meets through
working in the town.
Tea-drinkers, mothers, post office administrators, would-be fiancées. Little people with little minds.
When would they realise that only through confrontation with danger could life be lived to the full?
Before Palin set about writing this novel he painstakingly researched into Hemingway's fascinating
life so that when his character Martin talked about Ernest he could do so with authentic hard facts.
Tangentially, Palin even devised a TV series entitled Hemingway's Adventure in which he travelled
the world in the footsteps of the man to where he spent much of his life, which included
countries in Africa, Venice in Italy, Paris and Pamplona in Spain, the latter town which
is famous the world over for the annual bull-running event of potentially lethal proportions
through its streets.
As the end of the story looms it becomes obvious that Martin - the main character in the
story - wants to defy authority and stop any further modernisation of the post office.
With Hemingway's Chair at his disposal, he sits in the chair and coincidentally 'becomes'
just like Ernest - just like Jim Carrey morphed into an alter ego upon
wearing The Mask in
the movie of the same name.
I want the same as anybody else. I want to know that I've taken care of the big things.
Like love and hate and fear. And that I haven't done too bad at the small ones either.
In a deft act of defiance come the climax to the story, Martin reigns proud of his actions.
As for Michael Palin, he should be equally as proud for presenting such a subtly inspirational
story, that's totally devoid of violence and utterly charming in its modesty.
ISBN 0-413-68930-1 (Methuen; first published in 1995)
Reviews, Films - Catwoman UK Movie Premiere at Leicester Square, London Tuesday 3rd August By Steve Rudd
Ok, close your eyes, listen carefully and think hard. Where on earth can you see - and potentially -
meet the likes of Halle Berry, Sharon Stone, Benjamin Bratt, Will Smith and David Hasselhoff
(no, seriously!) in the space of just two days?
I'll give you a clue if you haven't sussed it out already and
Reviews, Books - Roads by Larry McMurtry By Steve Rudd
Better known for his novel writing than his travel writing, Texan man McMurtry's
most famous works include the epic Western story of Lonesome Dove,
and the tear-jerking Terms Of Endearment and The Evening Star.
For much of his life he's been a keen collector of books
Reviews, Books - Silk Dreams, Troubled Road by Jonny Bealby, By Steve Rudd
The third and final travel book in a fascinating and most exhilarating trilogy, this
epic account follows Jonny across the mountains of heaven on the Old Silk Road, from
Kashgar to the Caspian Sea. Or thereabouts, given that the horses on which Jonny and
'friend' travel are often beset
Reviews, Theatre - Up 'n' Under at Hull Truck Theatre with Cast Interview 23/07/2004 By Andy Dykes
John Godber's play 'Up 'n' Under' has enjoyed widespread success for twenty years.
So it's obvious that the story, although I have to admit I don't really know it,
does not need to be reviewed.
So I realise that if this report is going to be of any worth at all, tonight
I need to review the performance.
Reviews, Books - Ash Wednesday by Ethan Hawke By Steve Rudd
The definition of grace is the ability to accept change.
I needed to start calculating my masculinity not by the amount of pussy I could grab,
or how many girls I could bang, but by how true I could be with one girl.
How infrequently I could lie. How often I could show up when I was needed.
Reviews, Theatre - Up 'n' Under at Hull Truck Theatre By Nicholas Boldock
Once upon a time, there was a young boy called James Crossley. James liked to play sport and
did a lot of exercise. He bought himself some weights and trained hard until he became big and beefy.
When James grew up he grew his hair all silly so that he looked like a blond spaniel.
Then he became famous
Reviews, Events - Renegade Writers; A Review of Sorts By Alexander Porter
First off, this is not an objective review, having never been to a performance by this motley crew before I had expected a bunch of pretensions twenty something spouting angst, instead I got a pirate, an extremely pleasant surprise, second only to finding an entire packet of fags at three in the
Reviews, Theatre - Up 'n' Under with Talkback at Hull Truck Theatre By Elsie Creek
So, it's twenty years ago that John Godber showcased this, his first play for Spring Street Theatre,
for which he won the Laurence Olivier Comedy of the Year Award.
There has been a lot of water under the bridge since then, as we were reminded in
the post-show talkback with director and cast.
Both Hull TruckRead more...
Reviews, TV - Big Brother Exposed By Lee Cassanell
If Kittens revolution had been supported by the rest of the housemates this years
Big Brother could have been one of the greatest television shows of all time.
Unfortunately, due to the anaemic sailor persona and an amazing lack of charisma, the
bi-sexual Che Guevara never quite managed too inspire
Reviews, Opera - Gilbert & Sullivan The Mikado at Middleton Hall, Hull University By Nicholas Boldock
Dagger Lane Operatic Society are old hands when it comes to Gilbert & Sullivan. - in fact,
they've been performing their operettas for 20 years now. Way back in 1984 their inaugural
production was HMS Pinafore.
This year, for their twentieth anniversary show, it was the most celebrated Gilbert & SullivanRead more...