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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Albert Angelo (1964) by B.S. Johnson


Book Review
Albert Angelo (1964)
by B.S. Johnson

   Albert Angelo, the second novel by English experimentalist B.S. Johnson, is mostly notable for having actual holes cut in the pages of the book as a plot device, explicitly showing the reader what lies ahead.  I knew what I was in for when I read the paragraph long quotation from Samuel Beckett's, Unnameable at the start of it.   Albert Angelo is a cross between less experimental Beckett and the "angry new men" of English literature.  The eponymous character is a thinly veiled version of the author, which is gleefully revealed in the final portion of the book, with the narrator confiding a certain amount of hopelessness with the way things have turned out for Angelo in the book.

  Besides the high modernist/early postmodernist technique deployed on his behalf, Angelo, a trained architect scuffling by as a substitute teacher in greater London, fits well within the characteristic angry young men universe.  Most of those characters are explicitly working class, whereas Angelo is more of an underemployed young professional, but they both share a common dissatisfaction with the strictures of early 60's life in England.

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