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This report is taken from PN Review 242, Volume 44 Number 6, July - August 2018.

from ‘The Notebooks’
of Arcangelo Riffis
Marius Kociejowski
Think 1960s, think swinging London, and set against the London of those times his puritanical gaze. What for many was the summer of love was for him an eclipse of the sun, a world cast into a darkness from which it was never to emerge. Doubtless he had similar shocks in Italy, from the shortening of nuns’ attire to Roman women in slacks, further entries in the endless catalogue of the secularisation of the sacramento. There was about him such an air of disconnectedness, of not being able to fit in, of there being in him so little sense of alignment between what a place should be and what it actually was, and of a life wrapped up more in what books said about life than with life itself, that it was hard, at times, to believe he was of the human race. It was as if he had been cobbled together from every species of unlikelihood in order to produce the first man in existence.

Homo riffisopithicus.

When I first knew him he closely resembled, at least in profile, the man who beat the gong at the beginning of the J. Arthur Rank movies, so much so that I wondered if perhaps it really was him. Also there were physical elements in him of Jack Palance, Victor Mature and Gene Kelly and maybe just a sprinkling of Jack Kerouac.

The gongman’s story was of a kind Arcangelo would have relished, which would have taken up a chapter of one of our Sunday afternoons. ...

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