Sunday, March 13, 2005

Ackerley

If you haven't read J. R. Ackerley's masterful memoir of his father, My Father and Myself, find it and read it. It's in print. Ackerly was a fine literary editor in the 30's and 40's and a brilliant gay man before his time. His father was a
Buckingham Palace guard. He also kept two families, each ignorant of the other, for years. Ackerley's writing style strikes the perfect tone of irony, required to keep such a memoir from sensationalism or bathos. We learn that in order to keep two families on his niggardly guard's pension, he had to supplement his income in ways Ackerley only discovered relatively late in his life.

Buckingham Palace guards were underpaid precisely so they'd need to earn "tips" from the gay wealthy folk who would pick them out like pickles from a barrel for dalliances. Ackerley's learning of this practice leads him toward introspection which is always intersting. It is also a very funny book about Edwardian England and it odd customs. His writing is so good, he'd be interesting if he were writing about ground beef.

Mister Nouse

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