Book Review: Through The Billboard Promised Land Without Ever Stopping – Derek Jarman

Posted 2 weeks ago in Book Review

Music Current 20 mar-15 apr – Desktop
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To summarise the plot of Derek Jarman’s only work of narrative fiction feels like missing the point. If I had to, I would say that it tells the story of a blind King and his valet John, who leave their ‘high white villa’ to travel along the Superhighway which stretches into the horizon, ‘sodium lamps still burning in the pale blue dawn’. On the way, they encounter an array of strange places and people: Crêpe Suzette, ‘sitting on a zebra sofa eating a marron glacé’; the city of Disc, replete with ‘evanescent’ archaeological treasures that crumble in seconds; an Emperor who ‘smiles with the art of mirrors’…

For those familiar with Jarman’s work as an artist, there will be lots within these pages simultaneously familiar and queer. The story is accompanied with several essays and reflections on the work and on Jarman himself, as well as facsimile images from the draft. As a book it is, like its cover, prismatic and enchanting.

Before you get to the rest, however, you should read Jarman’s story and let it stand on its own. It reads like a myth; it opens into a kaleidoscope of crystal sentences. It makes perfect sense without making any sense at all. Both prose and structure have all the logic of a dream. ‘Art of mirrors’ feels apt.

Words: Alice Wickenden

Derek Jarman

Through The Billboard Promised Land Without Ever Stopping

[House Sparrow Press]



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