Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Madness Visible

I have ranted on several occasions about vanity publishing, but perhaps I was wrong. Without self-publishing, the world would be denied an opportunity to read this book, which I found yesterday:

I've read the blurb several times and I'm still not sure what it's about, but perhaps I should let the author explain:

The idea for writing "Heritage and Nelson" was conceived by the realization that so much of our heritage is fast disappearing and once lost can never be regained. I can think of no better example of heritage than Nelson and his Captains combined with the strength of English oak. I have gone back to the times when rocks, mountains, seas, plants and creatures were born, for all these things have a bearing on our lives today. "Why?" you may ask "Go back to the mists of the beginning?" - because everything in nature is born.

Does that clear it up for you?

The book seems to be in three parts, beginning with a brief overview of the geological history of the earth, up to the birth of Lord Nelson. This neatly leads into the middle part of the book - a celebration of the life of Lord Nelson. However, the book's true purpose remains a mystery until we reach the third and final section, when it is revealed that "Heritage and Nelson" is actually all about the author, Les Winter:

Here are a few photos, with Les Winters' original captions:

"Les Winter in a very thoughtful mood while actually working on this book"

"The wall above the fireplace in the Nelson bar"

"Actor Producer John Neville and Les Winter share a joke on the bowling green"

"The author finds time to relax for a few moments with friends in the bar of "The Lord Nelson"

Enter "Mine Host"

As you can see, the book is a complete Winterfest.

"Heritage and Nelson" seems to imply that Les Winter is part of some apostolic succession of great Englishmen and, for all I know, perhaps he is, or was. The dustjacket blurb gives a brief biographical sketch of the author's life, mentioning that he is "dead keen" on natural beers, local archaeology, folk lore and nature, but manages to tell us very little about the man himself.

I suspect that he was a "character".

Self-published books are usually a poor imitation of professionally produced ones, but occasionally I come across ones like "Heritage and Nelson", which have a mad genius about them. They are the outsider art of the book world, possessing a unique vision that defies the conventionally accepted criteria of what constitutes a good book.

With the best will in the world, Les Winter has written an utterly absurd book, which probably should never have been published, but in another life it could have been a rip-roaring blog. It's a great pity for Les that he was born in 1920.


Rob Spence said...

Excellent! I foresee a whole new genre emerging: my forthcoming titles (self-published, of course)are listed below list:
Logical Positivism and Napoleon
Paleontology and Gladstone
Philosophy and Daley Thompson
Panache and Reginald Maudling
Biblical Exegesis and Clark Gable.
Crown Green Bowling and Tutankhamen.

Mrs Jones said...

This just screams Count Arthur Strong to me! Yay for people with delusions of their own abilities...

Brett said...

Fascinating. Second time I've heard of Nelson fixation, after Unsworth's Losing Nelson.

I guess our Nelson would be, (or used to be), Robert E. Lee. "Oh, General Lee, if only, if only..."

The Poet Laura-eate said...

What a scary man!

Quite right Mrs Jones - Count Arthur Strong, eat your heart out!

Anonymous said...

Les Winter was a very odd man and the landlord of the Lord Nelson pub in Burnham Thorpe (Nelson's birthplace) for many years...Strange man, strange book.