NO CONTINUING CITY
THIS MOST RECENT gathering of Herman Goodden's essays, reviews, feature articles and interviews is bookended by his memorial pieces to his father and mother. Mixed in with reflections on why he never took to Boy Scouts or why he reads his dog's horoscope are more substantial pieces on the agony of modern art and the mainstreaming of pornography. In addition to his reflection on a lifetime's reading are individual essays on Terence Rattigan, John Buchan, the Brontes and Keith Waterhouse.
Elmwood Publications / 2010 / Cover image: Ted Goodden / Layout and design: Bill McGrath
Compiled after the deaths of my father in 2003 and my mother in 2009 , 'No Continuing City' is dedicated to my three brothers, my fellow newborn orphans. Among the longer pieces never before published are ‘A Personal History of Reading,’ giving the broad outline of my bibliophilic odyssey from ‘Winnie the Pooh’ to ‘The Divine Comedy’; and ‘The High Art of Illustration,’ my homage to the work of N.C. Wyeth which is prefaced by my denouncement of the mandarins and taste shapers of the gallery world who harbour such an unnatural contempt for any art that would be so gauche as to tell or illuminate a story. Also included here is my alarming report on my longtime Liberal MP, Sue Barnes, who stalked me through the mail for years. - Herman Goodden
“His writing conveys – sometimes almost magically – what one of his (and my) favourite authors, Hugh Kingsmill, called ‘the pleasure which there is in life itself’.”
- Ian Hunter
“Amid anecdotes, warm and beautifully written tributes to his parents and essays that touch on subjects ranging from Kraft Dinner preparation to his faith, there is a theme running through Herman Goodden’s latest book: ‘We are here for too short a time’.”
- Jennifer O’Brien, London Free Press
“Every few years Goodden assembles his columns, essays, interviews, book and music reviews into a new compendium to be picked up and enjoyed like one relishes custard cremes with their afternoon tea. As always, his latest is a delight, packed with unblinking observations and an obvious love and appreciation for most everything that life has to offer.
"No Continuing City opens with a collection of poignant essays on his late father, Jack. As a young man Jack left his native Wales in 1929 for Canada where he remained for the rest of his long life which ended in 2003. Or did it? You see Herman still has the occasional glimpse of his late father in the form of arresting little epiphanies that seem heaven-sent. And you believe him.
"Less surprising is how much of Goodden’s book is devoted to his passion for literature in all its forms and permutations – from Wordsworth to Terence Rattigan, from the Brontes to Agatha Christie on whom he weighs in with a typically original observation: The Mousetrap isn’t a particularly effective mystery or play, so much as it is a living museum exhibition; an utterly unchallenging and strangely reassuring relic of British post-war theatre,” he writes, following one of his routine visits to Britain.
“Everything – from the crackly gramophone quality sound of the incidental music, to the ushers selling ice cream from a tray at the interval – bespeaks a more innocent, leisurely and credulous time. It provides a wonderful holiday from 21st century stress.” So does the book.
"And it does something else. In page after page it operates as a window into politics, theatre, history, social issues, music and family life you won’t find anywhere else. Paradoxically, Goodden is ever the participant, yet always the outsider – a must for an accomplished writer and essential to this voice in particular which combines the heart of a Canadian patriot with the soul of an expat."
- Paula Adamick, The Canada Post (UK)