The Big Dipper

The Big Dipper

(1970) Heineman

‘A fizzer of a novel …very funny’ Financial Times

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Big Dipper is a short, sharp novel, again very influenced by films. In these early years I was doing some experimenting with form. I now find rather embarrassing the voice of the cleaning lady, laid through the novel without punctuation - to imitate her way of speaking presumably. However the rest of the novel stands up well. It is the first of my attempts to create a particularly English sort of male who finds it difficult to make contact with his own inner life and pays the price of cracking up. The Garish Day started from a similar idea. My hero here, Ian Harrad, seems to have everything, good job in television, good children and wife. I drew on my experience working for TV companies in UK and US for the media background. Then Ian’s wife leaves him and life, which he thought so perfectly organised, begins to move faster – smart dinner parties, nightclubs, a trip to Venice, and finally a stay in a fashionable health hydro – because he is made to recognise his growing obsession with food. It’s a painful story: the man who couldn’t get off the Big Dipper. Happily, the reviewers picked up on the funny side. I’ve always believed in laughter among tears.

‘A taut and orginal novel’ Woman’s Journal

‘Rachel Billington has a feeling for words, vivid and almost tactile’ Evening Standard

‘A fizzer of a novel …very funny’ Financial Times

Suggested reading: Lies & Loyalties, The Garish Day

Lies & Loyalties The Garish Day