Last evening we celebrated the launch of a remarkable book ” If I Chance to Talk a Little Wild” by Jane Haynes at The October Gallery, 24 Old Gloucester Street, London, WC1N 3AL.
Here is the short address I made to an illustrious crowd which came to pay tribute to Jane who deserved all their attention.
Ladies & Gentlemen,
We are here this evening to mark the publication of a remarkable book: If I Chance to Talk a Little Wild: A Memoir of Self & Other by Jane Haynes.
My first encounter with Jane was in 2015 when Quartet had the great privilege of publishing Jane’s Doctors Dissected co-authored with Martin Scurr. The book was a great success, summarised by Hilary Mantel’s endorsement: ‘Is medicine a job or a vocation? Does healing sometimes run in the family? What happens when doctors fall sick? How does the intimacy of the doctor/patient bond survive when medicine becomes the state’s business? Doctors speak in their own words in this fascinating book and the result is a provocative insight into bodies and souls.’
A paper edition followed and the book has now established itself as a classic to be reckoned with. Earlier this year, I received a synopsis of her next book in its very early stages, for my reaction. As I read what was written I was mesmerised. It was bold, controversial and the best manuscript I had come across in a very long while. My response was immediate. I encouraged her to speed ahead in the same vein and undertook to publish it as soon as possible.
Here is a fragment of what she has to say in this outstanding memoir:
‘If I could be granted some more foolish wishes, I would choose to have reincarnation as a vodka-swigging, sun-worshipping, gender-bending courtesan who could sing in tune. Such wishes will not be well received by my family but I cannot eradicate them. I feel some regret that I have over-compensated for the ravages of childhood by trying to take control of my life in a doomed devotion to Apollonian symmetry, beauty and discipline. There have been earlier times in my life when I experienced and celebrated Dionysus’s subversive revels, albeit in modest form, and when even if my limbs were not flayed, others were.’
This gem of a book is a masterly work, whose every word will no doubt trigger off deep thought, controversy and admiration all at the same time. This gathering should now endorse it big time by buying multiple copies of the book and spreading the good word throughout the nation so that it will top the bestseller lists this Christmas.
In the meantime, please let us see the colour of your money, particularly the ones of high denomination. This will start the ball rolling and will certainly give comfort to Jane as well as her publisher, given the current climate is full of gloom and doom.