Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Colin MacInnes

Fascinating account of the life of Colin MacInnes, author of Abolute Beginners, from Ed Vulliamy.

"Colin MacInnes was the first writer to pinpoint the birth of the 'teenager' and multicultural London. His books were alive with the city's subcultures. But, half a century later, as Absolute Beginners hits the stage, was his fascination with Notting Hill's emerging black culture radical, or something more disturbing? Ed Vulliamy, who grew up on those very streets, explores the iconclastic author's legacy."

"MacInnes was the decadent chronicler of 1950s Notting Hill, a restless, volatile neighbourhood which was home to one of the UK's biggest West Indian immigrant communities, and the scene of notorious race riots in August 1958. Openly gay when homosexuality was still an illegal taboo, MacInnes revelled in what he saw as the impoverished area's exuberant exoticism. Absolute Beginners was the first novel to capture the city's emerging youth culture, its lustful, teenage adventure dovetailing into MacInnes's sexualised idolisation of black life in Notting Hill and climaxing with the riots that seared the neighbourhood. Nowadays known to many only by way of Julien Temple's almost universally derided film of 1986, Absolute Beginners and MacInnes's preceding book City of Spades, achieved cult status after their publication, and were the first to chronicle, for a white audience at least, the culture of the new immigrants to London."