May 15, 2018

Some further historical insights into C.D. Rose’s Who’s Who When Everyone is Someone Else


As part of our ongoing interest in the nature of the events surrounding the tale told in C.D. Rose’s Who’s Who When Everyone Is Someone Else, on sale now, we were lucky enough to chance upon one of Rose’s notebooks, in which he has made brief descriptions of a few of the books which were not lucky enough to make it into his (now semi-legendary) lecture series.    

Here are a couple.


Gilbert Pump — Mr. Eye

Pump’s only known novel is a picaresque in which an unnamed narrator takes a surrealist roadtrip though grim post-WWII Britain, subsisting on powdered eggs, green potatoes, and bathtub gin, pursued by the mysterious titular character while attempting to relocate the manuscript of a novel he himself had written on the back of a series of ration books, later traded away in exchange for more of the aforementioned spirit.

The book is one that is usually only ever seen listed in the catalogues of rare book dealers of shabby repute, or cited in the lengthy bibliographies of dull surveys of mid-twentieth-century British literature, or in the extensive footnotes of dubious memoirs penned by denizens of the Soho literary demi-monde of fifties London. To find that it actually does exist is surprising, though to read it is—actually—disappointing.


Eric Borstal — The Taj Mahal Does Not Exist

Using the Situationist technique of the dérive paired with the operations of chance, Borstal travels the world, ever submitting it to his withering and (occasionally) hilarious glance. The lucky reader is thus able to revel in Borstal’s adventures and impressions without ever having to go to the discomfort of actually experiencing them. While some of his observations may seem dated (if not outright bigoted) to the modern eye, it is a pleasure to be constantly challenged by Borstal’s strident opinions. His daring claim that the Taj Mahal (along with the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building, etc.) really do not exist is quite bracing, especially when the editor’s note informs us that Borstal wrote the book without ever going any further than the saloon bar of the Twelve Pins in Finsbury Park, London. While Eric Borstal’s novels are, it is universally agreed, utterly awful, this travelogue is a dazzling gem of the genre.



Who’s Who When Everyone is Someone Else is on sale now. Buy your copy here, or at your neighborhood independent bookstore.