“Not many books by anyone so young are worth publishing, but this one was.”
“A very good first novel written with fine economy, intelligent and extremely moving.”
“He has written for this edition an introduction scarcely less absorbing and revelatory than the novel itself. Kenneth Martin has a long memory, and his account of his London experiences is acid, poignant, honest, illuminating.”
Paul Binding on the Introduction, The Listener
Excerpts from my Introduction to Aubade:
“I wrote Aubade in five weeks the summer I left school, and finished it six weeks before my seventeenth birthday—1000 words a day in three- or four-hour sessions, seven days a week. . . . I wrote then with a purity of purpose and an intense, unquestioning use of my skills that I may never equal and that belonged to a teenager convinced of the truthfulness of his insights into his own small world.”
“Chapman and Hall had been Charles Dickens’ publishers, and when I started exploring London I could imagine Dickens purposefully walking the streets of the Temple near his publishers’ office in Essex Street, on sharp winter mornings when the air near the river smelled as if something was burning.”
“I was interviewed by a furtive young reporter in a raincoat, and photographed slurping whiskey in a Fleet Street pub while I pretended to read Thomas Wolfe. True to character, I sought revenge on the small town which I perceived as rejecting me. “Bangor is a nice place,” I told the reporter, “but socially and intellectually it’s a slum.” I was reported verbatim under the heading “Shy Boy, 17, Writes Novel That Will Shock.” “Don’t worry,” the reporter said, “people forget what’s in the paper three days later.” In which case, what was the point of using him to publicize my novel? But he was wrong: the Belfast Telegraph never forgave me, and panned everything I ever wrote.”
Dear mr. Martin,
In 1999, I bought a first edition of Aubade without a dust jacket (dutch webshop). Was it published with a dj in 1957?
I very much enjoyed your novel!
Galgeneinde 11 / 1
It did indeed have a dj in the first edition. Glad you liked it. Ken
I still have my 1957 copy of Aubade, and re-read it from time to time. Yes, it has a dust jacket! But I think it was a library reject copy, so it has a plastic cover over the dust jacket and isn’t in good condition. Why have I kept this book so long? Why do I re-read it so many times? I don’t really know, but I love and admire this youthful novel and am always moved by it.
That’s very kind of you. Thank you for your comment.
Although I’ve now re-read Aubade many times, I’ve only just realised that it would have been set in Northern Ireland. I’m in New Zealand but my grandmother was born in Belfast and I’ve been there, and Carrickfergus, to visit relations a couple of times. And it’s only now (thanks to the internet) that I’ve wondered about your later life – I see that you moved to the US, wrote a few more novels, became a journalist and then a psychotherapist in San Francisco! Anyway, I’m of your generation and can hardly imagine writing such an assured novel as Aubade when I was a teenager. Of course, many novels have been written about teenagers but there must be very few by writers still at that stage themselves. No need to reply, but congratulations in retrospect!
Again, thank you for your kind comment. Aubade has been optioned by a film company for a TV series which is also about my life. It’s a long road from development to final production, but there’s already a talented director who wants to be attached. I’ll keep my fingers crossed. Best, Ken