Bingo Square Rep
But not what you think. Let Wollheim explain.
“. . . such was the hope, I would, in saying one thing after another after another after another, each with a grain more of truth to it than its predecessor, come to spill the beans: I might, if only the ear stayed steady, and that was another hope, find myself, with one broad archaic gesture, scattering the germs.”
Wollheim was born in England between the two wars to a German Jewish theatrical producer and an English mother who had to leave the stage, unwillingly, after he was born. He grew up with very little in the way of hands-on parenting, although there was always plenty of staff about. He must have been a so-called difficult child, sickly, and unable to bear having people about. School did not work out well for him, and so he spent most of his days on his own, observing. And, since his future career was that of an art critic, that worked out rather well for him.
But somewhere along the line, he learned to write as well. The middle section of the book consists of a run-down on his family background, which was probably of more interest to him than the general audience (although I do appreciate the photos). But the two outside sections are snippets of an over-privileged and decidedly odd upbringing. And so visual!
Here is how he introduces his memory of a trip to the coast. “Again I start with a Memory. It turns up like a card in a card trick, so that, cut the pack, and it magically rises to the top, crisp and fresh as if it had been newly painted. The memory takes me back to a seaside holiday, and it must date from my sixth or possibly my seventh year.” Every aspect of his young awareness is so clear I can very nearly smell the salt air. Then of course there was the “kind of manhunt, which swept holiday towns at the height of the season. A decapitated body, generally of a young girl with painted fingernails, would be found in a suitcase, abandoned in the Left Luggage office of a seaside railway station. A new series of “trunk murders” had begun.” Ah, the joys of seaside life.