Second Sam Youd novel now available
Following the publication earlier this year of The Winter Swan, the first published novel by Sam Youd (who would later become better known as John Christopher, author of such classics as The Death of Grass and The Tripods), the SYLE Press has just brought back into print Babel Itself, originally published in 1951.
Babel Itself was loosely based on Sam’s own experiences of life in a London lodging-house where artistic angst and psychic experiments were the order of the day. A contemporary reviewer found little to approve of in the ‘rag-bag of untidy people, untidy in habits and untidy in morals’ that made up its characters.
London in the late forties: strange shifting times in the aftermath of the war. A motley sample of humanity has washed up on the shores of the down-at-heel boarding house that is 36 Regency Gardens, their mutual proximity enforced by shared impoverishment.
Gentleman publisher Tennyson Glebe, no longer young, watches with mild interest as fellow residents go through the motions of seeking redemption, through politics, through art, through religion; the inconsequentiality of his present existence throwing the past into vivid relief.
And whilst Helen, as landlady, presides over the breakfast table, it is the unnaturally large hands of the diminutive Piers Marchant, Tennyson comes to realise, that seek to control the marionettes’ strings – his own included.
Who was it, after all, who had decided that a séance or two might assuage the evening boredom before the nightly trip to the pub?