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Afterlives - Philip Tew
Afterlives - Philip Tew
In 2014 Jim Dent is shocked by the premature death of former friend, writer Sue Townsend, who once believed in his ability to write fiction, something he has long since abandoned. Spontaneously Jim decides he must complete his own novel. Afterlives combines current and long-forgotten struggles in his life in London and Leicester as Jim recollects its significant, poignant moments while trying to write: his schooldays in 1968; his failing marriage in 1979; in 1980 a trip with Chris Challis, minor poet and admirer of the Beats, to interview aged modernist poet, Basil Bunting; after many years of no contact, meeting Sue again in 1999; and haunting Jim, his troubled relationship with his working-class father, the late Howard Dent, and the suicide of close friend, Steve Knapper.
Jim recognizes old-age fast approaches. Attempting to focus, he remembers the many people he once knew well, a cast of eccentrics, mostly creative people met and admired over the years, all of them lost due to other premature deaths, their creativity frustrated. Despite being a Professor of English Literature, and having published numerous scholarly works of non-fiction, Jim is haunted by a sense of frustration, having failed in his schoolboy ambition to be a published novelist. Aged sixty, he doubts whether any of the rest really mattered.
Afterlives reflects on the passing of so many, the loss to Jim himself and wider society; the promised talent achieved and delivered by so few, but not by the many, the majority eternally silenced. Afterlives charts the telling moments that Jim remembers, alongside with his current cultural and professional malaise. He faces one last challenge: will his ambitions be thwarted, or, will he succeed, achieving his lifelong aspiration? Can Jim face the pain and the secrets of the past to memorialize fondly all those he so misses?
Afterlives combines the novel form with elements of a memoir. In Leicester Philip Tew was a friend and collaborator of Sue Townsend (1946-2014) from around 1978 until he left the city in 1981, commissioning stories featuring Nigel (later Adrian) Mole published in a short-lived local arts magazine that Tew co-edited. He did meet her again in Enfield in 1999. He gave a speech at the memorial service for friend, Steve Knapper (1964-2012). And much earlier in 1980, he travelled through snowstorms to interview Modernist poet, Basil Bunting (1900-1985), accompanied by Leicester-based friend, writer and poet Chris Challis (1946-1997). However, much of the rest is made up by the author, or so he says.
Philip Tew's book has been favourably received by established, award-winning novelists for the quality of his writing:
"The father's episode is a fine and moving piece of writing." Fay Weldon
"It certainly has the most alerting ending of any novel I've read." Jim Crace
“Afterlives is brilliant - arresting, emotive and compelling - Jim Dent’s lamenting authenticity is raw and at times deeply tender as he deals, and doesn’t deal, with loss, ambition and ageing.” Amanda White, poet, scriptwriter, creative practitioner and children’s author published by Flambard Press and Barefoot Books.
Afterlives is to be officially released on 7th February January 2019, but advance copies may be obtained from 7th December 2018 via this website.