...my personal review of Richard Teleky's latest book, Ordinary Paradise. As I said, I think it's his best, but that's me.
It's wide-ranging, focused, as the sub-title suggests, on art and culture. But it's by way of an autobiography, as Teleky - no, I can't say that - as Richard presents his reading of and insights into literature and art and music and other passions, including people, more or less chronologically as he developed as a writer and teacher. He is an indefatigable researcher, like a sleuth going after clues patiently, patiently, with the help of the internet and shrewd discernment. He's like a dog with a bone. That was my mother's criticism of me because I never let go in my pursuit of an idea; I apply it to Richard not as criticism but as praise. He Is so thorough and so satisfying and he tells you everything you never knew you wanted to know. I can't really give you an example because his discoveries are so detailed and integral to his core. Bu he makes you feel part of his detective work. His conclusions are not only clarifications of his subjects (human as well as abstract), they are sensitive, simple yet profound, and often quite touching, His writing persona is delightful.
His book is a record of his enthusiasms, passions, as I suggested. He is a perfectionist and idealist, and very demanding, often harsh in his judgments of people as well as of their work. He dismisses most post-modern fiction ("pirouetting"" by male writers, "contrived or trite" by females), but concedes love for a few. He has lived long enough to be entitled to his strong opinions, having seen so much "literature" rise and fall at the whim of fashion and currency. Oh dear, this is a n analysis of Richard, not his book. Well, I'm not a reviewer or a pundit, but I am an observer.
We have one huge difference in our tastes - not tastes - predilections. Perhaps the difference lies in our origins/DNA. Richard is of Hungarian descent and I of Icelandic and Irish. I am fey, I have ESP (which I try to suppress or disguise). I love fairy tales, fantasy, legends, myths, folklore, fables, allegories and parables . I stop short of numerology but you get the idea. Richard cannot abide any of that. I make allowances for him.
He reminds me of Jennet Jourdemayne , the "witch" who is not for burning, in the play, The Lady's Not for Burning (1948) by Christopher Fry (1907-2005). She argues that she could'n t possibly be a witch, she is too pragmatic:
"I believe in the human mind," she says, and later, concluding: "And so, for me, the actual/What I touch, what I see, what I know, the essential fact."
"In other words," says Thomas Mendip, "the bare untruth." I don't want to take the time to explain who Thomas is. I'd have to tell you the story. Do you know the play? It's lovely and has worn well. I just re-read most of it looking for that speech of Jennet's. My copy is a Second Edition and it cost 7s.6d. net.
Well, I do go on. This is all Richard's fault.. I ride off on the wheels of a tangent, but I usually find my way back. Anyway, you should read Richard's book. That's my point.