5 thoughts on “The Rhododendron Boy – Colin Insole

  1. 23EFBED8-B0CC-416F-A2CC-C3A1588E97D9

    Possibly the most strikingly designed book ever!
    Mount Abraxas in apotheosis.
    Luxurious and sturdy. All my photographs show you its effect, to some extent.
    About 6 inches by 14 inches, at a guess.
    Over 80 pages. My copy numbered 9/100.
    Dust-jacket art by Kacper Gilka. Illustrations by Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach.

  2. Adapted:
    My immunity from harm stems from that fact. I am not in the story. I do not belong to this world. As a visitor, I can come and go at will and guide you each time.

    I hoped to guide you about this story of novella length. I originally wanted to take it bit by bit, as is my wont during ten years this month of Gestalt real-time reviewing. To guide you as if you were “daytrippers, exploring rock pools…”, “like entering a black-and-white film.” To tell you that the narrator says “I am a composite of parts – assembled tics, derangements and absurdities of the people I visit in dream.” Those old school photographs and old photos of this book’s first era and place where this madness happens, items I have recently stumbled upon for strange reasons in recent days for any who follow my Facebook photos. I was being synchronously prepared for reading this Insole work, it now seems!
    Anyway, all this went out of the window when I started to read it this evening. I could not stop reading it till the end. And luckily – or unluckily – I was allowed to do so by any with whom I share my life. This work is that special; it is that cloying; it’s something beyond words. The story of this boy narrator – later in the story we see him as a man – and his earlier relationship with a girl at school and her family, the stamp album, that he is filmed destroying. No, no, no, no, I cannot divulge what happens. Do stop me. This book has given my own madness back to me. It is as startling as the physical book that contains it, perhaps even more so! How can I possibly review it? Having read it, I am shaking with its nightmare. Yet somehow cold and objective enough to write this. To garner the photos below from my own past to decorate it, plus, for me, a suitable still from a black and white film (recently watched on Talking Pictures, a TV channel I was helped to locate on Freeview as if in another preternaturally synchronous preparation for reading this work), a film’s still from the book’s first era, where the rhododendron grove and the sanctuary of the rhododendron stile are set up, for later genius loci around the choreography of the frightening adult aftermath…
    I shall now cease, as I know I can’t master this review, can’t encapsulate this work, its monsters of childhood later returned in adulthood, including one unforgettable creature hardly described at all but due to haunt all my future nightmares. The monsters that are built into every photo and film and post Second World War era in England that I inhabited. Those monsters live with us today. Even those echoes of the mentalities that caused or worked through the Second World War itself. Whether friend, family or foe.
    This work is the bee’s knees. Honest to goodness.

    “Silhouettes and shadows heave and bump — the coming together of bulky ungainly things.”


    Me in 1962, 1955, and 1958, among these faces, and a film still of Bernard Bresslaw in an otherwise peculiar version of Jekyll and Hyde:






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