J. P. Donleavy, I Write About People I Like
A portrait of pre-eminent author, J. P. Donleavy, Irish-American novelist and playright, author of the best-selling cult novel The Ginger Man, one of the Modern Library 100 best novels, banned in Ireland, France and Australia. It was not banned in America. However, U.S. publishers then were censoring themselves and rejecting books or trimming them of problematic material to avoid the risk of over-zealous prosecutors in different districts had brought charges against publishers. Filmed at his estate Levington Park where he used to live as a semi-reclusive gentleman farmer, the author explains how he came to own The Olympia Press, the publisher of Nabokov’s Lolita, following years of court procedures to save his first novel from publication in a pornographic collection. Arguably the funniest living American novelist, he comments on the important characters in his work and reads notes from the original manuscript of The Unexpurgated Code: A Complete Manual of Survival & Manners.
This title is part of a series called VOICES, Meetings with Remarkable People. The filmmaker is Rina Sherman, who holds a number of cine-portraits with various individuals who have had an influence in a number of fascinating areas. This particular film is a portrait of J. P. Donleavy, a writer and playwright best known for his first novel, The Ginger Man (1965).
Donleavy discusses many of the characters within his novels, and reads from The Unexpurgated Code: A Complete Manual of Survival & Manners. Sherman’s background as a filmmaker and anthropologist has put her in touch with many interesting personages throughout her career, and this series attempts to talk with these people in an informal and casual manner — about their lives, careers, and passions. Anyone who enjoys detailed biographical information related to writing and filmmaking will enjoy this DVD, along with many of the others in this series.
Reviewed by Brad Eden, Ph.D., Dean of Library Services, Valparaiso University