I love it when books come alive and talk to you and enable you to experience things that you could never have experienced without them. That’s what has happened with the biography of Ian Fleming by Andrew Lycett. It is full of surprising details.
One of the details led me to search out some books by Sybille Bedford, who I’d never heard of. The most alluring of these is her memoir, published in 2005 and called Quicksands.
Sybille writes eloquently about her uncompromising ambition to be a writer, her failures, her frustration, her missed opportunities.
I had reached the age of twenty-nine when typescript number three was turned down by Chatto and by NY Harpers and this, except for a little journalism, brought me to a stop for — I must face it — many years. These and other long fragments of the life I wasted in not working lie heavy on me, and now, in the 2000s when lost time is irretrievable, I am often overcome by regret and disbelief. Oh what has remained undone by sloth, discouragement, and of course distractions… Distractions of living the siren song of the daily round — chance, often choice had led me to spend the squandered years in beautiful or interesting places: to learn, to see, to travel, to walk in nocturnal streets, swim in warm seas, make friends and keep them, eat on trellised terraces, drink wine under summer leaves, to hear the song of the tree-frog and cicada, to fall in love… (Often. Too often.)
She led an eventful and unusual life. Here, in this candid, rambling, wise and beautiful memoir published in the year before she died, she invites us to share it all. This is what writing should be. Delightfully uninhibited, a celebration of life and friendship, utterly irresistible.