Saturday, 26 April 2008

Crusaders back in the Financial Times

"Oh, the state of the nation / Is causing deprivation." Had I had been asked 20 years ago what the phrase 'State of the Nation' meant to me personally (and, of course, back then nobody was asking me anything of the sort...) I would have gladly discoursed about either a) various drama series I had seen on television, mainly written by Alan Bleasdale, or b) a mid-ranking recent single by New Order, a band I have always adored and thus forgiven for some of their dodgier lyrics (as above.) But this is Spring 2008, the season of the State-of-the-Nation novel, and it seems that I have written a contender in this peculiar category. Adrian Turpin of the Financial Times, who wrote an early review of Crusaders for which I was massively grateful, has now graciously cited the book again in a long review/thinkpiece concerning various titles, including the paperback of Blake Morrison's last novel, and Gordon Burn's Born Yesterday. For my part I couldn't be more pleased to have my book described by Adrian Turpin as "an enjoyable and unapologetically Victorian slab of social realism." And, to extend the theme of my previous post, I have to say that, as intriguing as I find the figure of Tony Blair, I'm much more interested in Pontius Pilate. The general tendency, mine too, is often to see whatever's happening in politics today as the bitter end, the final insult. And some observers will indeed have seen worthier standards applied in public life. But I don't think there's all that much new under the sun. At any rate, if we the people want to revive or reform our politics then we're obliged to get actively involved in politics, from day to day. As Bernard Sumner sang elsewhere in the aforementioned mid-ranking New Order tune, 'Yes, it's the state of the nation / That's holding our salvation...'

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