Wet Paint
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way


InamarineAfter quite a bit of searching through 25 odd years of bookselling flotsam I finally found what I was looking for: A tape recording of Richard Ford, Raymond Carver and Jonathan Raban reading at an event that I organised in London in June 1987.

Richard Ford reads from the beginning and then the end of The Sportswriter.

Raymond Carver reads five poems from In a Marine Light – In a Marine Light, Meadow, Venice, The Fishing Pole of the Drowned Man and Cadillacs and Poetry. He also reads two heartbreaking poems from Fires, Luck and Alcohol.

Finally Jonathan Raban recounts a very entertaining, but sadly truncated, (on the tape) encounter with Philip Larkin, from his book Coasting.

At first, without consulting my copy of the book, I had trouble putting a date to the event and so I emailed a long lost friend thinking that just possibly he may have kept a diary.

He wrote back,

It would be between May and November 87 as you know. Carver's handwriting is difficult to read, but in my copy of Marine Light it looks like he's written 'June '87.' That's as close as I can get it - if I could find my way home in those days it was counted as a miracle.

An honest assessment perhaps, but a not uncommon problem for us all at the time as I recall, yet listening to these three voices, each in their different ways illuminating the room in front of the fifty or sixty or so people who were present at the time, it seems like only yesterday.



paul morley

Jon, any way I can get a copy? Or are you going to put it on the site?


Paul, I'm working on putting some, if not all of it, on the site.

Presently I have the BBC coming to interview me about the supermarket and its effect on our little communtiy.

Oh, and I've been considering my priorities regarding heavy spending web compatriots.


How I would have loved to hear Raymond Carver read a few poems, and -God- have a book signed - "Where Water Comes Together with Other Water" is one of my favorite contemporary poetry books. At the time of your event I was a year into the special hell that is college in the U.S., although I'm fairly sure I'd bought my first paperback copy of "Cathedral" around then, so there was some light on the horizon.


Why Sarah, thanks for dropping by. I love your blog.

I was so lucky with Carver, I met him every time he came to England, partly because I sort of worked for Sonny Mehta-ie I ran a bookshop beneath his office and read manuscripts for him.

But I had already discovered Carver before that, and I have firsts of the real early stuff.When I look on the net and see the prices for At Night the Salmon Move etc it scares me.

But who cares about that. In the end we only care about the words.

Which in the reading are both by turns funny and heartbreaking.

I'll send you a copy.


Thanks Jonathan. Go ahead, make me even more jealous by telling me that you read mss for Sonny Mehta. Go ahead, I don't mind... I can take it. Here in my little secondhand bookshop in the wilds of rural Maine.

Wait, what am I saying, I LOVE the wilds of rural Maine! I saw a bald eagle this morning. Raymond Carver would have liked that. You can send me anything you'd like, I look forward to it. I love your blog, too.


Sarah, I have just spent more than an hour trying to get on line, and you have just made me laugh so much, thank you.

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