We slithered down a steep shaly crag to a shingle bank on this prettiest of little rivers which flows down from Mynydd Hiraethog- the moors of longing
" And so it begins. Jim has fled West..far far West to the storm wracked Galway shores to find solace and company with a former lover who promises to look after him . His beloved wife by Pagan ceremony on the western shores of the Lleyn, Jacquetta and son Will are both dead. Torn from his life within 9 months of each other. From here on in the tale is masterfully constructed like an epic poem. Interwoven with dreams and nightmares,hope and despair.But each word underpinned by great love. By now Perrin is nearing the end himself and like George Orwell on Jura, crucified by TB and fighting to finish 1984' before he dies- propped up in bed with pillows...typewriter precariously balanced on the stained covers...kept alive by strong tea and strong cigarettes- Perrin too fights on to finish his version of what Edward Abbey called his 'big fat book', The one which will finally take him outside the stockade. His Pyrenean lair a distant refuge from where by necessity he has had to escape to to disentangle himself from those who would cluck and clutter around him at home.Killing the project before completion.
What both works have in common is that they were crafted in passion and pain. For Orwell and Perrin they were books which HAD to be written."
This Friday,John Appleby reviews Jim Perrin's valedictory masterpiece West.