It’s always a delight to feature something a little different on Being Anne. When Leslie Tate asked me to review a section of his recent release, Heaven’s Rage, I was really intrigued. Here’s the description:
Heaven’s Rage is an imaginative autobiography. Reporting on feelings people don’t usually own up to, Leslie Tate explores addiction, cross-dressing and the hidden sides of families. Writing lyrically, he brings together stories of bullying, childhood dreams, thwarted creativity and late-life illness, discovering at their core the transformative power of words to rewire the brain and reconnect with life.
A Robin Red breast in a Cage / Puts all Heaven in a Rage – William Blake.
I read the book’s first section, in which Leslie looks at his struggle with alcohol, his relationship with music and his love for gardens, through a mixture of direct examination and introspection and extracts from other of his works, poetry or prose. I was drawn to this section because of the first subject – some will know the story of my brother, who died eighteen months ago – and I found the raw honesty with which Leslie wrote on the subject real, recognisable and immensely moving. There’s the secrecy and deception, the belief that drinking is the only time you’re truly alive, the failure of others to understand the true nature of addiction – all wonderfully depicted, all quite beautifully written, a mixture of analysis from a range of different angles combined with the heartbreakingly personal and raw.
The section on music really appealed to my senses too – the point at which we all moved on from Alan Freeman on a Sunday and our love for Radio Luxembourg, the discovery of music’s universal language. I adored his poem His Master’s Voice. The garden section spoke to me at a less personal level, but I did love the notion of sharing the experience of a garden with another, and the comparison of planting a garden with writing a novel.
Based on my enjoyment of this first section of the book, I’d really recommend it. Leslie’s writing is accessible, personal and honest, full of beautiful moments and sensory surprises, and a perfect joy. This is a book I suspect some may think really isn’t for them, when I think many would really find much to enjoy in its pages. I’m just glad I was brave enough to try.
Leslie studied Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. He has been shortlisted for the Bridport, Geoff Stevens and Wivenhoe Prizes and is the author of the trilogy, Lavender Blues: Three Shades of Love.
Leslie runs a comedy club, a poetry group and a unique mixed arts show in his hometown of Berkhamsted, UK.
You can read about the first part of Leslie’s trilogy Lavender Blues: Three Shades of Love here. You can view a family tree covering all three books here. Click on the family tree image to enlarge it. You can read about Leslie’s talks and workshops here and mixed-arts shows here. and to read about Leslie’s published poetry click here.