Well Done God. Revisiting Cult Novelist B S Johnson

Well_done_god

I’ve set aside time this week to plug the gaps in my knowledge of B S Johnson, thanks to a splendid new compendium of his plays, short prose and journalism (including On Football). Three of the plays have never been published before including One Sodding Thing After Another. Such is the lot of an experimentalist.This year is already shaping up to be a Big Year for the late-B S Johnson. This month sees the 80th anniversary of his birth and so far there’s been:

  • •New Picador editions of four novels: Albert Angelo, Trawl, House Mother Normal and Christie Malry’s Own Double-Entry. Introductions by respectively, Toby Litt, Jon McGregor, Andrew Motion and John Lanchester. Striking artwork by La Boca.
  • New Picador compendium Well Done God! Selected Prose and Drama of BS Johnson, edited by Jonathan Coe, Philip Tew and Julia Jordan.
  • Anniversary event at the British Library. See my report on The Huffington Post this week.Forthcoming:
  • A DVD release (April) from the British Film Institute of B S Johnson short films including Fat Man on a Beach.
  • An archive of the author’s letters and notebooks will be available on the British Library online catalogue in the next few months. For more details take a look at the Huffington Post article: Fat Man on a Beach, Well Done God: novelist BS Johnson Remixed.

If you’re new to B S Johnson, I suggest starting with Christie Malory’s Own Double-Entry. It’s a real treat – dark, witty, humorous and very readable despite the experimentation with form. And if you are a struggling artist/writer you will take solace from Like a Fiery Elephant: The Story of B S Johnson by Jonathan Coe (winner of Samuel Johnson Prize in 2005).

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