Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Colin MacInnes' Absolute Beginners Ace Edition

...found this today, for 99p, Colin MacInnes' Absolute Beginners (1959), the proto-Mod London novel about a scene with no name...in other words, the cool flip side to the London Trad Jazz boom...the modernist one with an MJQ soundtrack....this edition came out in '61...ace...

'There in the Dubious which, as I think I've said, is in a cellar, the instruments resounded with a thunderous effect, and as I listened to the sweet and soothing sound I once again reflected, thank the Lord I was born into the jazz age, what on earth could it have been when all they had to listen to was ballad tunes and waltzes? Because jazz music is a thing that, as few things do, makes you feel really at home in the world here, as if it's an okay notion to be born a human animal, or so.'


  1. Love it! Great find.
    A dear friend gave me a Penguin 1964 Peter Blake cover copy... a book I love not just for its wonderful content but for its design and its yellowing pages too.

    1. True, the Blake edition i is good, but this is the best that I've seen.

  2. I have this edition. MacInnes is both kinda square and really very prescient. Surely the hip music for a teenager in '58 would be the rock n rollers like Cochrane, Perkins, or the bluesmen like Muddy Waters. Elvis does get a namecheck, of course. No doubt a lot of kids were into jazz and I think of the Stones' drummer Charlie Watts in this regard. On the other hand, I can't shake off a vision of the narrator becoming a name photographer of the 1960s, snapping legends like the Beatles or the Kinks, getting all strung out on acid. Because this book does capture in embryo the Swinging London that would take over the world.


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