If Youth Is Pleasure by Denton Welsh
To those of us who haven’t been to public school, public school seems to be an institution which well off parents send their kids to to keep them from disturbing their busy and privileged lives during term time. They also seem to be as close to the concept of prison as possible hence the awful food, sexual abuse and violent bully rule. As I said I have no real idea about what happens in public school, but the hints are plain to see in Denton Welch’s In Youth is Pleasure. Bookended by the nightmare reality of public school this reissued novel is about the summer in between and how the main character struggles with his sexuality, his odd family and unsuitable friends while hoping to find a bit of a smidgeon of summer relief. I’m not sure he does. Maybe this is what attracted literary fans like John Updike, WH Auden and William S. Burrough to Denton Welch’s books, and as Edmund White, in a great introduction to the work, says, “What constantly destabilizes and rivets us in these tales of summer rambles?” What indeed. Better buy a copy and find out.
In Youth is Pleasure – Denton Welch – publ. by Penguin Classic £8.99