And We Were Young by Elliott Baker - review by Duncan Fallowell

Duncan Fallowell

After Dallas what?

And We Were Young


Micael Joseph 184pp £5.95 order from our bookshop

Elliott Baker is an American. This is, I think, his sixth published novel. Norman Mailer finds Baker one of the funniest writers he knows. And We Were Young is dedicated to Norman Mailer. Elliott Baker is pictured on the back cover and he looks like Dennis Norden minus the spectacles and with a more expensive hairdo and a more golf-coursey wardrobe. Mr Baker’s eyes appear to be pointing in independent directions. The novel is 184 pages long and not deep. Nor is it humorous. It is serious, a story simply told in sonofabitch no-nonsense prose which would embarrass Hemingway for having influenced it (via Mailer), in much the same way as our soft-core pornography would embarrass D. H. Lawrence. Mr Baker’s style, if it amounted to style, would be called neo-realism. That is, he imagines ‘reality’ as something dead turned into string and wound on a spool.

Plot: the lives of three men from the same infantry unit re-mesh unpleasantly in the McCarthyite events following the Second World War. The book, which is really pure nostalgia, is ostensibly about Betrayal. The blurb flings this in rather desperately. In fact the blurb is a whole other torture in

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