Hugh Garner George Woodcock - Essay

George Woodcock

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The title—One Damn Thing after Another—says a great deal about the shape of the book, for, compared with Garner's novels and stories, it is unexpectedly loose and rambling. At first the apparent formlessness disconcerts one, but in one way it is a very natural way to write a book of memoirs, the thoughts and recollections put down as they come into the mind. It is, indeed, so much like a man talking that, as one reads, Garner's gravelly voice seems to sound in the ear and his compact cocky figure to take shape before the mind's eye.

One of the good things about this approach, from the view-point of any writer who will follow with a more formal biography of Garner, is the fact that he gives abundant detail on his publication record, even down to what happened to individual short stories. Another is that when he has written a good magazine piece about an episode in his life, Garner resurrects it instead of rewriting the incident from a later and vaguer perspective. (pp. 95-6)

An interesting aspect of Garner's present attitude is his retreat from the political engagement which led him to Spain; it is not the same thing as a repudiation of his past. (p. 96)

So here is Garner, warts and all, with no attempt to hide the bouts of drinking that alternate with long periods of severe and sober work …, with no attempt either to mitigate his vanity or to beautify his occasional fits of loud...

(The entire section is 409 words.)