Sunday, 8 January 2017

The Girl fromYugoslavia (1977) and Waldorf Salad (1978) by Harold Robinson

Harold Robinson's the Girl from Yugoslavia is an ill-fated attempt at arty erotica from the King of Crap. It is a simpler, quieter tale than Harry's usual mix of peril and pornography. It is set in the Med, where we meet Alistair, a depressed, terminally ill Anglo-American writer. Divorced and oversexed, he is a clear avatar for Robinson himself. Swanning around in a Lotus sports car, he settles down on the small, idyllic isle of Meridia. There he meets a young Yugoslavian nun named Maria, but though they fall in love, neither know of each other's secrets. Maria and Harry elope, but then Harry has a heart attack and dies. His death reinvigorates Maria who now having found true love, rejoins the nunnery. Trite, easily melodramatic, it lacks Harold's usual global flair.

Harold Robinson's "Waldorf Salad" is a back to basics potboiler, after the failure of the highbrow Girl from Yugoslavia. Set in the kitchens of the Cunard liner "Princess Margaret", it tells of a chef whose recent dismissal from the Waldorf hotel forces him to go on an obsessive quest to make the perfect Waldorf Salad, so he can get his old job back. But finding the perfect ingredients at sea proves difficult and this drives him to alter the ship's couse until he is fired once more, thrown overboard to the shores of Australia where he continues his quest. Staying at a mental hospital, he pieces together the right ingredients and finally creating his masterpiece, he sneaks back onto the Princess Margaret with a wheelbarrow full of his creation, doling it out and forcefeeding it to those who spurned him before he returns to New York. There, he becomes chef of the Waldorf, brothel that is. Marvellously grotty, terribly written. Welcome home, Harold.

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