It’s difficult to know just how much you should blow your own trumpet when trying to make people read your books. I suppose there’s no right answer, and the apparently modest assertion that the work will if good enough find its own readers is arrogant as well; arrogant in a different way from the idea that you should shout from the rooftops and expect people to listen, but arrogant nonetheless.
Anyway, the last thing I want this post to do is come across as arrogant. But, I do need to show thanks to a number of people who have been kind enough to say things about my new book, On Trust: A Book of Lies, and whose testimonials haven’t, for whatever reason, been used on the book itself or in much of the supporting material sent out to booksellers. So, I will post them here, mainly as a way of saying thank you to the people who have spent time and energy saying pleasant things about me, and whose time and energy would otherwise have gone to waste.
‘What Promethean splendour! This fictional self is decked out in dick jokes, tenderness and all the latent eroticism of a Ferrero Rocher advert. Settle down in the back, there. Womack is talking.’
‘Whether writing about love, fatherhood, alienation or watching beheading videos on Youtube, Womack writes uniquely and playfully like the lovechild of Lorca and P. G. Wodehouse might – ‘always cakewalking on the edge of the abyss’.
‘On Trust’ directly questions the nature of confession and how perhaps all of us are editing our lives away; ‘my mouth was closed up/ my lips were sewn with strange thread’. Here is a writer who is skilfully anti-biographical and potent – ‘An invisible man sleeping in your bed’ – always creeping closer and closer towards our anxieties. He is both confidant and manipulator; ‘pour me a beer’, he writes, ‘and I’ll remember my geography’.
Womack’s slippery and charming collection – ‘I repeat, any writing has no single author’ – constantly challenges our very human need to hunt for the honest and the confessional in poetry. Whilst strip-mining this search for his own poetry, Womack, reveals himself to be a thoroughly talented troublemaker.’
‘In James Womack’s excellent new collection On Trust the poet is not the speaker but a weaver of stories and selves: “This is a book of lies; these notes are true.” The dynamic between memory and fiction makes for bright, observant and richly wry poems; but also for poems of melancholy, damage and separation. This is an intense, spirited and brilliantly-structured book.’
So, to the three of them, thank you. I am always touched by the extent to which people are willing to go out of their way to help and support one another. (Of course, if any of what they say makes you feel like buying my book, then that is an added bonus.)
One thing I should add is that my friendships with Richard and Chrissy derive from our having participated in the Aldeburgh Eight Seminar, way back in 2013. This has been to date the most significant and confidence-boosting event connected to my writing, and it is a real shame that it no longer exists.