This blog has not been updated much for some time. In fact, I've not done much writing of any sort for the past couple of years: getting divorced, concentrating was difficult, it's taken a while to get back in the swing. I thought a good way to restart — to press the reset button, if I may borrow from Hillary Clinton — would be with the book that ended it all. A while before I stopped writing altogether, the London Review of Books commissioned me to write a piece on Richard Hughes, pegged to a reissue of The Fox in the Attic: I ended up procrastinating so hard over it that the piece became an uneasy joke with the people I knew at the LRB; then came the divorce and the absolute cessation of activity, and finally I admitted defeat.
I don't say that if it wasn't for Hughes I'd have been banging out prose by the ream. But the extent to which I ended up thinking about his not writing, rather than his writing, was not healthy. I did not want a patron saint, but that is what he has ended up being, I think.
My theory, for what it's worth, is that Hughes didn't want to write so much as he wanted to be a writer — the difference isn't always obvious even for the person doing the wanting, and things like talent and productivity, which you feel ought to be clues, may be red herrings.
Anyway, here is the first Penguin edition from 1964, illustration by Ceri Richards: Richards gets the novel's surreal, naive tone very nicely; I particularly like the staircase echo of the fox's ears. Perhaps I'll get round to reviewing the novel properly some time, but don't hold your breath.