It’s always such a frustration that I can’t accept or read every book I’m offered and today I’m featuring Brian Pendreigh because I love the sound of the book he’s brought along to share with me and even if I can’t fit in reading it, you might like to!
Staying in with Brian Pendreigh
Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Brian and thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.
I am very grateful to you for showing an interest, giving me your time and allowing me space on your blog.
It’s a pleasure. Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?
The Man in the Seventh Row and Related Stories of the Human Condition, which has just come out. I have had quite a few books out before, mainly books about films and film stars. But this is my first novel.
How exciting. Tell me more.
Actually a version came out in 2011 and got amazing reviews from people like Ian Rankin, Andrew Marr and Barry Norman. They called it things like compelling, breath-taking and a work of “mad metaphysical genius”. All the talk then was of the printed book being finished and my agent placed it with a new ebook company. But then the publisher went bust and it just disappeared. I have now reworked it. I have always had a publisher and agent before, so self-publishing and raising awareness is a new challenge.
My word. What a start to the life of The Man in the Seventh Row and Related Stories of the Human Condition Brian. It sounds as if it’s a fascinating read. What can we expect from an evening in with The Man in the Seventh Row and Related Stories of the Human Condition?
A unique and hopefully enjoyable experience. The basic premise is of a man in LA seemingly being sucked into the action of classic movies he fell in love with as a boy in Scotland in the 1960s and 1970s. And we do not know if it is real or in his head or why this is happening.
The 1960s and 1970s are very much my era! I think I’d find The Man in the Seventh Row and Related Stories of the Human Condition quite nostalgic.
There is a lot of nostalgia, a lot about love and loss, and obviously a dash of magical realism. And now the story continues, with new characters in three related stories or chapters, leading to a second ending, not a revised or alternative ending, but a second ending in a way that I have never known any other book attempt. I think it adds new meaning and depth to everything that goes before. The initial reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, people are being really moved by the story, but the difficult bit is getting the word out there. I have worked on this, on and off, for over 30 years and finally it is exactly where I want it to be.
I’m delighted to be part of that journey with you Brian and I hope readers will find The Man in the Seventh Row and Related Stories of the Human Condition through this blog post. What else have you brought along and why have you brought it?
Sixty-three years of life, the ups and downs, happy and sad the memories, and joy and laughter through the tears. Oh yeah, also some ale, gin and champagne. Not moderation anyway, never. I’ve also brought a short extract from the book:
‘I want to report a murder,’ says the visitor.
‘Sit down,’ says the man behind the desk. There is a hard edge in his voice. He is a man who says no more than is necessary, sometimes not even that much.
‘Who was murdered?’ he asks.
His visitor takes a deep breath, considers the question ‘Who was murdered?’, and weighs up his response.
‘I was,’ he says.
The policeman’s face shows not a flicker of reaction. He picks up another piece of paper and begins to read it, as if the topic of discussion has turned out to be too trivial to warrant any further attention.
‘Do you want to hear my story or not?” asks the visitor. “I don’t have much time left. A day, two days, a week at the most. And then I will be gone.’
‘Where?’ asks the policeman.
‘The movies,’ says the man.
‘I’m disappearing into the second dimension,’ says the man. Quickly reconsidering the melodrama inherent in his comment, he feels he must elaborate. ‘The movies are taking me over,’ he says. ‘Taking over my thoughts. Taking over my body. I can walk and talk but I have no life of my own anymore, no life outside the movies.’
Most people in this city are taken over by the movies. That is why they are here. Serving beers. Waiting tables. Just waiting. Waiting for the big break that will turn them into the next Tom Cruise, or the next Julia Roberts. But more likely the only movies they will ever make will involve sex with strangers filmed by other strangers. They are no more than children when they come to LA. They quickly grow old, lose their looks and mislay their innocence. Every day the policeman sees people who have been taken over by the movies. They live in trailer parks and dirty, cramped apartments, and they turn tricks on Sunset Boulevard until their own suns set. He has looked on their corpses, abused by drugs and sexual perversion and sees a dream that turned into a nightmare. They were dead long before they were taken to the morgue.
The man from the seventh row looks at the policeman.
‘The name’s Batty,’ he says at last. ‘Roy Batty.’
Now, of course, I want to read on! I’ll join you in a glass of that champagne in a minute Brian when I’ve just given readers a few more details about The Man in the Seventh Row and Related Stories of the Human Condition, as I’m sure they will have been intrigued too. Thanks so much for staying in with me to tell me all about what sounds like a really interesting read.
The Man in the Seventh Row and Related Stories of the Human Condition
In Los Angeles, a man is sucked into the action of the classic films he fell in love with as a boy in Scotland, The Graduate, The Magnificent Seven, Blade Runner, Braveheart. Is this real? Or in his head? And why? And who or what is Rosebud?
Ultimately The Man in the Seventh Row is about childhood and adulthood, about love and loss and the possibility of redemption and it is about cinema and the nature of reality.
Acclaimed by the critics in its original version in 2011, it is literary fiction, with a lot of nostalgia and more than a dash of magical realism. It now transcends the confines of the novel, as the narrative concludes in a short story with different characters Sometimes She’ll Dance.
In the UK, The Man in the Seventh Row and Related Stories of the Human Condition can be ordered through most bookshops, from Amazon and Waterstones. It can also be ordered from Brian post-free (in the run-up to Xmas) in the UK via the book’s Facebook page. In the US, you’ll find The Man in the Seventh Row and Related Stories of the Human Condition through Barnes and Noble.
About Brian Pendreigh
Brian Pendreigh is an award-winning writer and journalist, whose regular outlets have included The Guardian (1999-2007), The Times and The Scotsman. He has written several film books and most recently was editor of The Times on Cinema (2018). He was twice Britain’s Film Journalist of the Year and his work has been picked by the Scottish Examination Board for English interpretation questions. He is a keen long-distance runner and pub quizzer (with wins on Mastermind, Eggheads, 15 to 1 and Only Connect). He lives in Portobello, Edinburgh. His lounge overlooks the Pentland Hills and his bedroom looks out to the sea and romance.