I'm presently confined to bed, after a serious and very painful fall from my bicycle. I'm re-reading Muriel Spark's excellent 1963 novel Girls of Slender Means which is set in 1945. Not only does it explore the world of ideas, its central male character is an “anarchist and poet”. In an early scene he and another poet are sitting in a café in their “corduroy trousers” discussing art and life: “a copy of Peace News lay on the table between them”. I whooped aloud – and painfully – when I read these words and wondered whether PN has ever figured in fiction before or since.
Tell us dear readers! Sadly, I find it hard to imagine a contemporary novelist even being aware of PN's existence, yet PN is full of good writing. In the 70s I used to write for the rock magazine Zigzag and it too was full of good writing by people who've since gone on to make a bigger mark. I've never come across a reference to Zigzag in fiction – and rarely one to Melody Maker or New Music Express come to that. Too low-brow for the literati? Novels concerned with pacifism are rare too, but how necessary they are. I've never ever been tempted to write a novel but It's my guess that there are would-be novelists reading this letter. So I offer you this subject: pacifism and rock n roll – and make sure you mention PN.