A former soft-porn film director, turned motorcycle courier, is summoned to South Africa where his mother is dying - the start of an odyssey backwards into his memories . . .
A motorcycle messenger drives into a small park in London to paint the words "White Lightning" on the tank of his bike.
This is the beginning of an extraordinary novel. It is told over the space of a few months, and in these few months one man's whole life - his failures, his successes, his longing for peace and fulfillment, his loves and his tragedies - are recounted.
These memories include his film Suzi Crispin, Night Nurse, and - the darkest moment - the death of his son, which has haunted him. He inherits a small amount of money and buys a rundown farm, where he dreams of creating an Arcadia. On the farm is a captive baboon, Piet, who becomes startlingly involved in his new life. He also has a love affair with a local woman, and becomes hauntingly involved with an African family of squatters.
All the while the narrator contemplates his own life back in England and so the novel is also a sharp commentary on what Englishness means. This is a novel about the human enterprise. It is surprising, tender, funny and utterly original.
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Justin Cartwright (born 1945) is a British novelist.
He was born in South Africa, where his father was the editor of the Rand Daily Mail newspaper, and was educated there, in the United States and at Trinity College, Oxford. Cartwright has worked in advertising and has directed documentaries, films and television commercials. He managed election broadcasts, first for the Liberal Party and then the SDP-Liberal Alliance during the 1979, 1983 and 1987 British general elections. For his work on election broadcasts, Cartwright was appointed an MBE.
Cartwright lives in London with his wife, Penny, and two sons.
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