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George Barker on MacLaren Ross

At some point in the 1990's we bought a lot of books and papers from the Norfolk based poet George Barker. This catalogue entry is worth preserving. For some reason it seems a bit down on Barker, possibly because Barker is very hard to sell whereas novels by Julian MacLaren Ross go, as they say in Canada, 'like snow off a dyke.'

Barker, George. ( J. Maclaren Ross.) Manuscript of a review by George Barker of the autobiography of  J. Maclaren Ross. 1960s. Typed MS with notes in Barker's hand and a signed note at the top saying that he wrote the review for The Tatler. 800 words with many hand written additions and corrections. It begins 'I remember him as a rather melancholy Malvolio drawling away in a high pitched nasal monotone to which no one in the Wheatsheaf, or the Highlander or the French Pub ever paid any attention at all...' Barker grudgingly admits that his memoirs are not 'entirely unmemorable'. Most of the review is spent putting the boot in and, apart from the envy a  minor writer might feel for another who has become a major cult, it appears that most of GB's animosity came from the fact that JMR borrowed a tenner from him and never repaid it.

 'I found reading them both evocative and faintly shameful. Evocative because Maclaren Ross really did possess a door-to-door salesmen's eye for snap evaluations, and faintly shameful because he had an eye for almost nothing else.' Barker (who got by on academic work  from which, it is said, that he tended to be dismissed for drunkeness, lechery or indolence) is referring to JMR's job working for several years as a vacuum cleaner salesmen, an experience of which JMR writes brilliantly in Of Love and Hunger. SOLD

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