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Jonathan Meades has an obsessive preoccupation with places. He has spent thirty years constructing sixty films, two novels and hundreds of pieces of journalism that explore an extraordinary range of them, from natural landscapes to man-made buildings and ‘the gaps between them’, drawing attention to what he calls ‘the rich oddness of what we take for granted’.
This book collects 54 pieces and six film scripts that dissolve the barriers between high and low culture, good and bad taste, deep seriousness and black comedy. Meades delivers what he calls ‘heavy entertainment’ - strong opinions backed up by an astonishing depth of knowledge. To read Meades on places, buildings, poli- tics, or cultural history is an exhilarating workout for the mind. He leaves you better informed, more alert, less gullible.
'Meades at his dazzling, contrarian best' - The Guardian
'The consummate critic… a human Enigma machine.' A.A. Gill, Sunday Times
reviewed by Dolly Delightly October 15, 2012 16:38
“There is no such thing as a boring place,” says Jonathan Meades. And let’s face it, he should know having spent a lifetime “writing about it in different media and in different ways: polemically, analytically, essayistically, fictively”. Place, albeit not exclusively or singularly, is also read more...
It’s an astonishment, maybe even an outrage, that Jonathan Meades’ writing and thinking about the hundreds of places he’s visited have never been edited into a book before.
Over the coming months you will watch it come together as he sifts through the scripts to sixty films, and the hundreds of pieces and he has written and delivered over the past twenty years. The plan is to produce a handsome volume (heavy on the handfeel) containing five full scripts of his most important TV films (illustrated with stills) and about forty pieces, including ten longer essays. Very little of this material will have been read by a general audience; the scripts, in particular, have never appeared in print before and offer an extraordinary insight into Meades meticulous working methods and his subversive visual style.
An excerpt from one of the longer pieces – called appropriately 'Place' – is available below. Pledging to support the book now will get you access to other pieces and a longer exclusive interview about the planned book. More Meadesian goodness will follow at regular intervals, including in June, your first sight of that rare wonder, a complete Meades’ film script.
The finished book will be released to Unbound patrons in spring 2012.
UNBOUND TIP: Essential for Meades fans, and anyone interested in the way building, landscape and culture collide. Not for Changing Rooms viewers.
Place - on no matter what scale - is one thing. Creation of place is quite another. That creation is accretive and continuous, it occurs across time.
Jonathan Meades is an English original. He has spent thirty years constructing sixty films, two novels and hundreds of pieces of journalism that dissolve the barriers between high and low culture, good and bad taste, deep seriousness and knockabout comedy. His vision is as sharp and unmistakable as his image: tinted glasses, sharp suit, deadpan delivery. He peddles, as he calls it, heavy entertainment, which means he has strong opinions about almost everything. What sets Meades apart from most of the media commentariat is that his views are backed up by an astonishing depth of knowledge. Maybe because he taught himself (he went to RADA not university), his scholarship has sharpened his originality rather than blunting it. To watch or read Meades riffing on places, buildings, food, politics, or cultural history is a workout for the mind and eye. He leaves you better informed, more alert, less gullible. And don’t just take our word for it:
One of the funniest and truest writers we have. No one understands England better than Meades. STEPHEN FRY
Meades is funnier, cleverer and sharper than anyone else on TV. A.A. GILL
Meades knows which fork to pick up, but he is deeply the other thing: an educated upstart who not only doesn’t know his place, but knows far more than his allotted share about all the other places. CLIVE JAMES
If Meades was a racehorse you'd be calling for a steward's enquiry. There's something in his feed which definitely gives him the lot. IAIN SINCLAIR
Jonathan Meades is the best amateur chef in the world. MARCO PIERRE WHITE
When journalism is like this, journalism and literature become one. JAMES WOOD
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