Double-Entry

In a state of splendid self-isolation, I’ve been reading Christie Malry’s Own Double-Entry (1973) by B.S. Johnson.

It’s about a frustrated office worker who goes to ridiculous lengths to reclaim his dignity. In fact, he becomes a terrorist so I hesitate to mention him as someone to relate to BUT it’s all played for absurdist laughs against a 1970s (rather than post-9/11) backdrop and there are other things going on in this extraordinary novel too. It’s very short and very funny and very Twentieth-Century in tone while at the same time being fourth wall-breaking with a comedic lightness of touch. I recommend it.

Here’s Johnson’s description of Christie’s office:

The atmosphere was acrid with frustration, boredom and jealousy, black with acrimony, pettiness and bureaucracy.

I think that’s excellent. B.S. Johnson saw the novel as a dated outlet for storytelling and his way of rescuing it was to write from a spiritual/internal/reflective viewpoint: perspectives that TV and film would struggle (and continue to struggle) with. And it’s a good reflective description of an office. It’s certainly how my old workplace felt to me.

The novel begins with a calculation worthy of an Escapologist: how long ’til retirement? He works out that he can retire “early” but is still appalled by his lot:

Christie was silent even at the information that he had only forty-three and not forty-eight years before he was free.

Anyway, it’s a good book. You can read a little more about it here but I advise against spoiling the plot for yourself if you plan to read it.

*

I’m preparing to drop an early newsletter with a short editorial on the pandemic as well as the usual digest of Things Escapological. Join our mailing list if you’d like to get in on the [in]action.

About

Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at www.wringham.co.uk/about.

Leave a Reply

Latest issues and offers

1-7

Issues One to Seven

A bundle of our first seven issues. Featuring minimalism, Houdini, Leo Babauta, Bohemianism, Alain de Botton, Sartre, and Tom Hodgkinson. 567 pages. £35.

8-11

Issues Eight to Thirteen

A bundle of our last six issues. Featuring Luke Rhinehart, Flaubert, Mr Money Mustache, part-time work, Will Self, home life, Richard Herring, and E. F. Schumacher. 593 pages. £30.

Issue Thirteen

Our final issue. Featuring an interview with celebrity mortician Caitlin Doughty; Matt Caulfield on zen fool Ryokan; and Reggie C. King on David Bowie and Sun Ra. 122 pages. £7.

Escape Everything!

A hardback guide to scarpering. Essential reading for wage slaves and slugabeds alike. Published by Unbound. 230 pages. £12.