I have finished reading everything in Terry's 'immediate stack' of books - the one that sits at the edge of the dining room table, that he was working through when he died.
Terry had a vast library that travelled with
him throughout a number of house-moves. It is a precarious mountain that has put much stress on the flooring beams of various attics. The titles and topics chart his life well - there's a whole bookcase of Two Rivers Press titles about the hometown he loved, Seamus Heaney and Patrick Kavanagh sit beside Glen Alyn and Alyce Guynn whose work he prized so much.
Books about the history of Punch and Judy, all the Elvis biographies - good and bad. The photography books of William Eggleston, Terry O'Neill and Ray Metzker books about Dublin, Belfast, Memphis, The Barras, The Thames, Billy Strayhorn and Bobbie Gentry.
I always felt Terry was made up of every bit of culture and art he ever consumed. I think he felt that too though he wouldn't have said it out loud - it's sounds too conceited for him. But then, to Terry the term 'art' applied to Coronation Street, Only Fools and Horses, Donald McGill postcards and gypsy caravans as readily as it does to the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, so there's nothing lofty about it.
He would be amused that I've started reading this book about The Beats. He loved Kerouac, while I have studiously avoided those writers thanks to my habit of forming prejudices based upon
flimsy evidence and clinging to them for several stubborn decades. I have always suspected I would find those boys to be tiresome, posturing pricks.
We ran out of time, but Terry would have talked me round by reading out a dazzling paragraph or two of On The Road and giving me some context on those writers, so I softened my view enough to read them.
I'm up to page 26 - so far Burroughs, Lucien Carr and Ginsberg are proving to be tiresome posturing pricks, but James Campbell writes about them very neatly..