Withnail-related books

Talk about the DVD and VHS releases, posters and other merchandise related to the film.

Withnail-related books

PostPosted by Tennyson » Wed Nov 03, 2010 12:12 pm

The posts about books are all over the Forum (not that I'm complaining) so I thought it would help to start a new thread here.

It seems to be a good year for Withnail-related books, perhaps because the 25th anniversary of the film is next year and publishers want to drum up anniversary-related publicity.

* Justin Smith's 'Withnail and Us' came out this year (and I've already written on the Forum somewhere that it's quite disappointing).
* 'Vivian & I' by Colin Bacon is supposed to be out but according to Bastard Behind The Eyes no-one on the Forum has admitted to buying/reading it.
* 'Withnail and the Romantic Imagination' is apparently going to be published soon by the King's England Press.
* Plus there are the two 'Withnail' books we all know about, by Thomas Hewitt-McManus and Kevin Jackson

Thought I'd mention here that I'm reading Richard E Grant's novel from 1998, 'By Design'. It's not at all bad, and I speak as somone who didn't much like 'With Nails' and usually can't stand novels set in Hollywood.
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Re: Withnail-related books

PostPosted by shagsack » Wed Nov 03, 2010 10:05 pm

Tennyson wrote:The posts about books are all over the Forum (not that I'm complaining) so I thought it would help to start a new thread here.

It seems to be a good year for Withnail-related books, perhaps because the 25th anniversary of the film is next year and publishers want to drum up anniversary-related publicity.

* Justin Smith's 'Withnail and Us' came out this year (and I've already written on the Forum somewhere that it's quite disappointing).
* 'Vivian & I' by Colin Bacon is supposed to be out but according to Bastard Behind The Eyes no-one on the Forum has admitted to buying/reading it.
* 'Withnail and the Romantic Imagination' is apparently going to be published soon by the King's England Press.
* Plus there are the two 'Withnail' books we all know about, by Thomas Hewitt-McManus and Kevin Jackson

Thought I'd mention here that I'm reading Richard E Grant's novel from 1998, 'By Design'. It's not at all bad, and I speak as somone who didn't much like 'With Nails' and usually can't stand novels set in Hollywood.


How right you are! Vivian & I may well be worth a look. Withnail and the Romantic Imagination looks very intriguing, I shall be ordering a copy of both. Here's a link for the latter.

http://www.kingsengland.com/withnail.htm
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Re: Withnail-related books

PostPosted by Tennyson » Thu Nov 04, 2010 11:47 am

It would be great if Crooked introduced a Book Reviews section and everyone could compare their impressions of the different Withnail books. There still isn't a perfect Withnail book but I suppose if you buy them all, it would add up to one.

(Thanks, "Shagsack", for the web address thingy for the latest book. I've never managed to work out how to do that. Will click on it now and see if it works!!!)
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Re: Withnail-related books

PostPosted by crooked » Thu Nov 04, 2010 11:54 am

There was a books section but it never saw any action. It was lost when I streamlined.
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Re: Withnail-related books

PostPosted by Tennyson » Thu Nov 04, 2010 12:16 pm

Thanks, Crooked. Perhaps there'll be an explosion of Withnail-related print material next year, with the 25th anniversary, and it'll be worth bringing back a Books section? I love reading other people's opinions of the film and often surf the Forum (now I've learnt how to use the Search facility) to look at old posts and compare notes.

I'm amazed the MacKerrell book has had so little attention in the media. Did none of the broadsheet papers review it?
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Re: Withnail-related books

PostPosted by The Purveyor » Thu Nov 04, 2010 3:58 pm

I thought Kevin Jackson's book the best. Hewitt-McManus's book appeared to be, in my view, mostly a cut-and-paste from the internet and books already published. Smoking In Bed is well worth a read, for an insight into Bruce Robinson and his outlook on life and film-making

I won't be reading Vivian And I. Much as I love the film and probably know too much about it, I doubt that even my degree of geekiness will benefit from reading about a man who had his finger on the self-destruct button.

Withnail And Us looks like a cash-in. Not specifically about 'Withnail', but using the name.

Withnail And The Romantic Imagination looks like it may be vanity publishing. But I reckon it will be worth a look.
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Re: Withnail-related books

PostPosted by HE Bates » Thu Nov 04, 2010 6:22 pm

I've read Smoking in Bed. Yes, it's a good intro to the man who made the movie, but it also has valuable insights into creative processes - the anti-formulaic, anti-Hollywood kind of creative processes.
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Re: Withnail-related books

PostPosted by Tennyson » Fri Nov 05, 2010 11:58 am

In reply to Mr Bates & Purv: I have to read EVERYTHING about the film (but read doesn't necessarily mean "buy"!).

SMOKING IN BED: Bought for me by my local library, an interesting insight into Robinson who is more like Car-Crash-Withnail that I'd expected. How on earth did someone this sweary and disorganised produce a work of genius like 'W&I'? He's certainly got a great deal of stamina and determination (the passages about what he endured in Hollywood are painful), plus genuine intellectual curiosity but developed erratically instead of built on a sound basic education. Well God bless him for it. Watched the film last night again and I'm STILL noticing new stuff!

KEVIN JACKSON: Lots of nice stills from the film but an off-hand blokey tone which I didn't like much. (Excuse me, young man, I've paid good money for this book so would you mind addressing me properly?) Seems to have been written in a hurry - a lot of observations plonked down as they occurred to him while watching the film. Not properly organised. A couple of really elementary mistakes which make me think he's not a true fan. (He turns up on Radio 4's egghead 'Saturday Review' from time to time, so he's well connected among luvvies which is presumably how he got the job of writing a book for the BFI.) Some interesting observations but I've read better on this Forum ... sometimes written by people who don't know how to use capital letters or apostrophes so please try and be tolerant, Commandant Crooked.

HEWITT-McMANUS: I really like this one. The work of a True Fan. The fact that he researched it mainly on the internet doesn't diminish its value for me - sometimes I'd rather read a book than switch on a screen. I couldn't care less if it's a vanity project or not. It's quirky, literate and quite useful. All NEW 'Withnail' fans should get it.

VIVIAN & I: Was put off by the article in 'The Chap' which was somewhat dull and included a spelling mistake ("chords" for "cords" as in "vocal cords"). This sort of thing - and repetitive swearing - provokes me into tantrums which make Crooked's apostrophe diatribes sound like Miss Marple at a knitting bee. Nevertheless, I'll get my library to buy it for me.

WITHNAIL & THE ROMANTIC IMAGINATION: Sounds like an examination of the cultural background to the film, a challenge which Kevin Jackson makes a start on but ultimately flunks. I want this one. Hope there's no swearing.

Have we missed any?
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Re: Withnail-related books

PostPosted by The Purveyor » Fri Nov 05, 2010 3:51 pm

Tennyson wrote:Have we missed any?


Yep. WITHNAIL AND US
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Re: Withnail-related books

PostPosted by The Purveyor » Fri Nov 05, 2010 4:00 pm

Tennyson wrote:* Justin Smith's 'Withnail and Us' came out this year (and I've already written on the Forum somewhere that it's quite disappointing)


Okay. But will you cut-and-paste and put it here? 'Cos I don't think crooked will merge the posts for us.

WITHNAILS I think this was the first 'Withnail'-related book. For a trainspotter like myself, it was useful for the nuggets of info which had not previously been published. Like, it put 'out there' the real-life location of Crow Crag.

BY DESIGN Couldn't be arsed.
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Re: Withnail-related books

PostPosted by McFuck » Sat Nov 06, 2010 1:07 am

I have not read any withnail related books at all. Not likely to find in my library or the local shops or yard sales.
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Re: Withnail-related books

PostPosted by crooked » Sat Nov 06, 2010 4:01 am

If you consider the total number of words you must have read on the various incarnations of the withnail forum, you have probably read a multi-volume encyclopedia about it.
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Re: Withnail-related books

PostPosted by Tennyson » Sat Nov 06, 2010 11:42 am

@ Purveyor:

Sorry, yes I did forget 'Withnail and Us' by Justin Smith. It's an academic work by a senior lecturer at one of the former polytechnics who has recycled his lecture notes on Film Studies. There's a chapter for each of the films he regards as fitting the "cult" label and some mini-chapters (one page) for things he thinks interesting but not worth a whole chapter. There are some b/w illustrations. The author keeps asking loads of questions, as if he's running a seminar, and that might be all right in teaching, when I buy a book I expect some answers!!!

Smith has read some of the messageboards to do with cult films (and has probably lurked on this Forum: I wonder what his log-in name was) and makes a few rather snooty remarks about people who use messageboards. Interestingly, he quotes lumps from 'The Wicker Man' messageboard without any acknowledgement of the authors' rights, so presumably the fact that people like us deliver our pearls of wisdom online means we're already in the public domain and we can't complain about copyright!

@ Crooked: Have you ever been tempted to compile an Encyclopedia based on Forum contributions? I'd buy it.

'W&I' gets a whole chapter ("All right here?") but I honestly can't recommend it. I think I said in the original post that if anyone wants a general guide to "cult" films which includes 'W&I', the best book is 'Your Face Here' by Ali Catterall and some other chap. It has a couple of odd mistakes but is written by enthusiasts and doesn't talk down to you. Some of the films they write about I've never even seen, but it's still a good read.
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Re: Withnail-related books

PostPosted by HE Bates » Sun Nov 07, 2010 3:13 pm

Tennyson wrote:SMOKING IN BED: Bought for me by my local library, an interesting insight into Robinson who is more like Car-Crash-Withnail that I'd expected. How on earth did someone this sweary and disorganised produce a work of genius like 'W&I'? He's certainly got a great deal of stamina and determination (the passages about what he endured in Hollywood are painful), plus genuine intellectual curiosity but developed erratically instead of built on a sound basic education. Well God bless him for it. Watched the film last night again and I'm STILL noticing new stuff!


Well said.

Tennyson wrote:@ Crooked: Have you ever been tempted to compile an Encyclopedia based on Forum contributions? I'd buy it.


What an excellent idea. Draft it, I'll edit it. :ganj:

Mcfuck wrote:I have not read any withnail related books at all. Not likely to find in my library or the local shops or yard sales.


I cannot believe. Surely Smoking in Bed should be readily available in 'Merikuh.
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Re: Withnail-related books

PostPosted by shagsack » Wed Jan 19, 2011 2:15 am

I work for a newspaper, last week I got hold of a copy of Withnail and the Romantic Imagination, that was sent for review purposes. I read it over the weekend and I'm deeply impressed, the level of research is quite extraordinary - almost forensic! The accompanying letter that came with the book states that Maisie Robson is a university lecturer, this is no surprise as it's very intelligently written. I must have watched this film more than any other, probably over 100 times, but I learned many new things from the book. The use of language within the film is disected and analysed with an expert's knowledge - believe me, Maisie Robson really does know her stuff. There are chapters for each of the main characters, the plot, the screenplay, romanticism, the cult surrounding the film, pastoral and the soundtrack. This book is easily the best I've read on Withnail and I, but don't just take my word for it. It's a must-read for all obsessives like us lot. And no, I'm not Maisie Robson.
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