White Spines by Nicholas Royle


Just received #WHITESPINES by @NicholasRoyle

cc @picadorbooks


My own old #Picador has long gone yellow!

My previous reviews of Nicholas Royle: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/14748-2/ and of Salt Publishing: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/salt-publishing/

When I read this book, I may comment on it in the comment stream below…

14 thoughts on “White Spines by Nicholas Royle

  1. Pages 1 – 35

    I only review fiction, so this ought to be a blindingly white blank of a book review.
    This is indeed non-fiction about fiction book collection, an intellectual as well as rudimentary impulse obsessively being pricked. I don’t think I have ever been so compelled to read something. It is hallucinating with titles and dreams and anecdotes and meetings and reasons for worshipping genuine uniformity as well as for the striking words that stick out the meaning into new meanings, excuses and explanations, word maps of journeys, bookshop to bookshop, book to book, even those books that merely look like the books one wants, transcending genres, especially the wonderful poem written by Ella Joyce. The tracks of coincidence and the itemisations of some future gestalt being sought? And, yes, about judging a book by its cover, I agree, and, meanwhile, is everyone in The Tiger Garden yet to be mentioned in this book? I shall keep my eyes skinned. And yes, I am hallucinated into a runaway ricochet and impetus of reading slopes, but I am determined to eke this book out, to savour its deployed titles, author names and obsessions, its tantalising tangential thoughts and byways. Till next time.

  2. Pages 36 – 54

    “I’m still awaiting a reply from Stand.”

    I got published in STAND (1990, soon after the Dagon DF Lewis Special came out), so there! As well as a long (for me) short story published by Alan Ross at that time. Reading this White Spines book, one can’t help having memories or dreams alongside it, like the world’s first blank story that I published in Nemonymous and the pure white cover edition of that journal, the one that quoted a song title from The White Album. I also remember well my first reading, about the same time as Royle’s, of The White Hotel. Charles Wilkinson and I almost or actually overlapped attendance at the same university around the turn of the sixties into the seventies. Having said all that personal stuff, I can now say, as objectively as possible, that, during the reading passion of the moment just now, I think this has become one of the most ongoingly enjoyable reading experiences of my life. The anecdotes and the quirky titling of some Picadors and much else that is also new to me or unknown to me, but still absolutely consuming. And it’s good to follow such a piecemeal and idiosyncratic audit-trail through the life of this author’s book.

  3. Pages 55 – 61

    Not much time for reading right now as we have a rare unexpected visit from other people today, rare since the pandemic began. Flies in Amber if not Aspic, has a ring of something pandemical especially with that ‘amber’ word here linked with ‘crud.’ My gestalt real-time reviewing of books, over the last 13 years, often finds figurative or factual flies from a summer of yore squashed on a page, or addresses and other real or imaginary inscriptions, and other coincidences or Easter eggs within the texts themselves, representing links of accidental meaning, and ‘peacock’ (if not king penguin) concatenations from my real life outside the book that I happen to be reading. For example, just now, this morning, I reviewed MARRIAGE by Robert Aickman, a story from one of his old Gollancz collections, and I found this London address in it (“Forty-two Washwood Court, North West six”), and this typo (“It was hot has Hell.”) The latter fits with the intense heat around me today. And I also found in this Aickman story reference to an ‘immense divan’ as a sexual image for the sea.

  4. Every book has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.” —from ‘The Shadow Of The Wind’ by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

    Pages 62 – 80

    I admired the author’s making an exception of a hardback in a collection of paperbacks not because it had ‘Vertebrates’ in its title but because of its loose ‘chance’ “inclusions.” Including a pressed flower. Also felt empathy with the reference to “Pale Fire” by VN, as I think my real-time review of that book is one of those possibly most in tune with the spirit (so far) of ‘White Spines’.
    This book has not necessarily created a new literary form of Tarot, but some sort of religion, that I shall call C of E — viz. Catholic (small c) of Eclectic. Involving itemised, even dated, Tiger Garden dreams, and very personal details of this author’s life, and, yes, a fearless faith in fiction, as well as, possibly, the Passion of the reading moment that I have been extolling for yonks. Involving all books I choose to buy and read and review, not only the books that are, as its says here somewhere, “in good nick.” (Small n.)
    The endented ‘concrete poetry’, meanwhile, that this author found in one book reminds me tangentially of my often finding meaningful rationalisations in my reviews for seemingly accidental typos, as well as for chance stains or, yes, other ‘inclusions.’ Found-art that also works for me in photography.
    Then onto books lent out and never returned, a new basis for freehold / leasehold ownership of what a book officially or unofficially contains as well as simply what it is.

  5. Pingback: Every book has an empirical soul… | The Des Lewis Gestalt Real-Time Reviews

  6. Pages 80 – 112

    Of course, I continue to ‘enjoy’ (as this word is explicitly defined within these pages themselves) the reading journey through this book, in the way that I have already described this enjoyment above in my review, and, indeed, this book honestly gets even better and better as it amasses more anecdotes and tangential wisdoms about people, books, what is written and included in books as a parallel with what its official and original, often unreliable narrator recounts within it, what is appended to books, favourite bookshops etc. compellingly weaving, for me, the Royle journey through his personal life (I shall no doubt talk about the other Nicholas Royle later in this review) but what else can I say? — only my own personal tangential thoughts, such as why do all the books (even so-called valuable limited richly bound editions) that I gestalt real-time review bear my scribbled marginalia (as assistance to this process) IN PENCIL? Why don’t I do all my notes in ink, in the presumptuous hope that such permanence will increase the books’ value after I am dead? These questions I relate to Royle’s fascinating anecdote about a particular book’s inner redaction of a word and my own relating these thoughts to a book that I reviewed recently that contains a story by Royle, but these redactions are not about his story at all…
    4E7DA204-37CA-45B4-AEB6-E09038A2FA8A Merleau-Ponty sounding like a tourist sight 4E7DA204-37CA-45B4-AEB6-E09038A2FA8A phenomenology of cemeteries 4E7DA204-37CA-45B4-AEB6-E09038A2FA8A needing a man 4E7DA204-37CA-45B4-AEB6-E09038A2FA8A lifting corpses before they are dead 4E7DA204-37CA-45B4-AEB6-E09038A2FA8A we’ll never have 4E7DA204-37CA-45B4-AEB6-E09038A2FA8A.
    and how these redactions differ from the act of striking out that you intend to remove words that you still expect to be read. Ex-Words to match the Ex-Files that I await mention of in this book or confirmation that such have already been airbrushed. Whited out.

  7. Pages 113 – 133

    The massive anthology book that I mention in the previous entry above, the one with redactions as well as a Royle story, is entitled ‘We’ll never have Paris’, and we now spend some French time in and outside Paris with Royle which includes a presumed hearing of a nightjar. I am glad that eventually he was able to get his translated version of ‘Pharricide’ published. I once visited Paris for a couple of days in 1967 while hitchhiking towards Nice. But I am much more familiar with the enticing Darklands of Southend, that he also visits in these pages, and the works of Lee Rourke. Including his Vantablack.
    Oh, yes, on a different time ribbon, someone called Chris Witty sells a book to Royle during these pages.

  8. Pages 133 – 159

    “If I am going mad, I am at least doing it in an ordered way.”

    I know the feeling!
    I also love the almost self-ridiculing attitude of Royle as he continues this ever fascinating journey of Picador minutiae et al. As to typos on covers, has anyone ever noticed that the final Nemonymous in the noughties had Megazanthus Ress, on the spine of all its physical editions (if not on the doctored on-line photographs of it) instead of what it should have been? I spent a whole blog post rationalising this Ress (here)!
    Meanwhile, I can’t remember the Old Pier bookshop in Morecambe where I lived in the late 1960s near the seafront, mainly because it wasn’t there then! During that era, I attended a live concert in Lancaster by Cornelius Cardew (a composer mentioned in this book) wherein he slammed his arms down on a piano keyboard for 45 minutes in a relentless rhythm. I was the only one who shouted out ‘encore!’ at the end but I will surely not be the only one who shouts it out when finishing this book.

    Megazanthus Ʀess

    Megazanthus ᶈeƧs

    Mgznthus Ҏess


  9. Pages 160 – 217

    I have just enjoyed the first few dawn hours finishing this very happy book, and nothing I say above needs or is able to be retracted. Including the double act of the word ‘enjoy’ itself and the rambling through books and bookshops, in minutiae as well as by broad instinct, as I also have often done throughout my life. Although I often get confused between D.F. Lewis and Des.
    Needless to say, me and Royle share a similar catholic and eclectic taste in literature, similar but not the same. I reviewed Royle’s stories about doppelgängers, dummies, counterparts here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2018/06/08/the-dummy-other-uncanny-stories-nicholas-royle/ And my observations upon the two Nicholas Royles are scattered about many of my other Royle reviews but particularly here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2015/01/22/this-thing-called-literature-andrew-bennett-nicholas-royle/#comment-3856 and here: https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/novel-doodlings/
    The rest is for the birds. And other clad bones.

    COUNTERPARTS was a wonderful reading experience for me, which during moments of the sweetest serendipity, […] tantalising themes of crossed personality and involuted individuality,…” – From my review of Royle’s first novel (as opposed to his FIRST NOVEL!) in the acclaimed American mag Deathrealm in 1994. The serendipity et al, still very relevant today after reading this wonderful new book about word-clad spines! Clad from the inside.


  10. Pingback: Clad Bones and White Spines | The Des Lewis Gestalt Real-Time Reviews

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