Rediscovered Classic: Towards The End of The Morning
Michael Frayn's skewering of the press remains as relevant as ever.
The recent demise of The Independent’s print edition highlights the perils of the real-world press in the face of the internet. In terms of distribution and decreasing revenues, online has indeed changed the game, but strangely the story behind those written words (the people, the aspirations, the despairs, the deadlines, the sheer overriding comic tragedy of it all) has changed incredibly little.
The truth that Michael Frayn’s Towards the End of the Morning still drips with relevance goes some way to prove this. Written in 1967, aside from the mechanics of the press and Fleet Street as an institution, much is familiar. Journalistic concerns are largely petty, where vague resentments and half-baked dreams flesh out the onward slog of providing
Frayn’s hilariously fine wit expertly dismantles Dyson’s pretensions to fame (television) and over the book’s pages, little else remains unskewered by the author’s genius for social analysis; much that was relevant to the late sixties continues to carry an eerily similar weight, even today. Despite Frayn’s future strengths as a dramatist, here he also wisely allows
Towards the End of the Morning was Frayn’s third novel, well-ahead of the Whitbread (now Costa) Award success in 2002 for Spies or indeed his career as
Faber’s recent reissue of several early Frayn novels (including his first, The Tin Men has provided us with the perfect opportunity to rightfully celebrate one of Britain’s most insightful – and strangely timeless - pieces of comic writing. ‘Still ranks with Evelyn Waugh's Scoop as one of the funniest novels about journalists
Set in the crossword and nature notes department of an obscure national newspaper during the declining years of Fleet Street, where John Dyson dreams wistfully of fame and the gentlemanly life - until one day his great chance of glory at last arrives. Selected as our May 2016 Rediscovered Classic.