The Bloater - Rosemary Tonks

New Directions


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The Bloater by Rosemary Tonks / ISBN 9780811234566 / 135-page paperback from New Directions (I featured this author on Writers No One Reads when she died in 2014)


'A wonderfully unromantic romantic comedy' Daily Telegraph

'Uncommonly good' Guardian

'It is the perfect aperitif, makes you feel warm and careless and much, much happier' The Times

A rediscovered literary classic, The Bloater is a rollicking hothouse novel where love and repulsion are two paths to the same abyss

Min works at the BBC as a sound engineer, and in theory she’s married, but her husband George is so invisible that she accidentally turns the lights off even when he’s still in the room. Luckily, she has her friends and lovers to distract her: in Min’s self-lacerating, bracingly opinionated voice, life boils down to sex appeal―and of late she’s being courted by an internationally renowned opera singer whom she refers to as The Bloater (a swelled, salted herring). Disgusted by and attracted to him in equal measure, her dilemma―which reaches a hysterical, hilarious pitch―is whether to sleep with him or not.

Rosemary Tonks is a writer who gets her claws into the reader with all the joy of a cat and a mouse. Vain and materialistic, tender and savage, narrated in brilliant, sparkling prose, The Bloater is the perfect snapshot of London in the 1960s.

"Passion and revulsion, tenderness and cruelty, worldly sophistication and schoolgirl naïveté—outside of the classic will-they-won’t-they set-up of an unlikely romantic pairing, it’s Tonks’s embrace of oppositional forces that provides the source of the novel’s tension, as well as its levity…The joy of reading The Bloater is in the vitality of Tonks’s sentences, which are teeming with sensory particulars and surprising, delightful connections…its republication seems a small miracle"--Madelaine Lucas, Astra Magazine

Rosemary Tonks (1928-2014) was a colorful figure in the London literary scene during the 1960s. She published two poetry collections, Notes on Cafés and Bedrooms and Iliad of Broken Sentences, and six novels, from Opium Fogs to The Halt During the Chase. Tonks wrote for the Observer, The Times, New York Review of Books, Listener, New Statesman and Encounter, and presented poetry programs for the BBC.

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