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Showing posts from March, 2011

A Rage in Harlem by Chester Himes

Often, intertextual inertia must give way to old promises and the making good thereof. In the case of Chester Himes, who I’d rescued from the clearance bin in Waterstone’s Cardiff before the summer, the paying of deserved respect was long overdue. I have a very soft spot for genre fiction, particularly when the content is framed quite so elegantly as that of Chester Himes’ Harlem cycle. Apologists justifiably present him as the Black American literary complement to white contemporaries and genre luminaries Chandler and Hammett, and from a personal perspective, his marriage of svelte prose and acute observation is as pleasing on the eye as anything from either author or other renowned pulp novelists like John D MacDonald. To my mind, Himes is particularly tasty bubble-gum for the brain. Of the verisimilitude of his characters I cannot comment. Harlem in the forties and fifties is as far removed from Cardiff in the ‘teens as I can possibly imagine (I sell myself short of course, but you g…

The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

Having met Jon on several occasions, and having come away each time with the feeling that he was genuinely interested in what I had to say and felt moved by some sort of kinship to reveal titbits of personal information (like about how his brother is a bit of a [rude word here]), I have developed a distinct and comfortable fondness for him, his writing, his documentaries and even his film (or rather the film of his book). In retrospect, given that in every instance where we coincidentally arrived at the same point in space at around the same time was due to the fact that, as an erstwhile bookseller, I was there to sell his books for him, I worry that this bond was illusory, the easy self-deception facilitated by the fact that he was motivated by insecurity to be nice to the guy who, nominally, had the success or failure of the undertaking in his hands.

I’ve had a beer with him, a smoke with him, seen his “foot herpes” (I kid you not, but although I’m not a medical professional I suspe…

Bash the Rich by Ian Bone

I cannot help but be endlessly fascinated by the stream of intertextual inertia that ensures I drift from one absorbing (or at least intriguing) book to the next, and so I’m very happy that the present stream has pushed the intellectual boat out deep into the random waters of non-fiction.

Remembering my course back up river, I get a little lost around the Idler (either issue number 42 [Smash the System – sounds likely] or 43 [Back to the Land] attractive in its new hard-cover cloth binding but unattractive in its Idler-off-putting new price bracket) and the article with Ray Jones, laughingly self-monikered with the double barrel insert “Roughler” and his pursuit of unemployed bliss. I think that perhaps my periodical infatuation with all things idle (due no doubt in part by the periodical nature of its publication) was the catalyst, perhaps the inception point, so the search may be in vain. Nonetheless it has seen me wend my way through the Ray Jones biography (review coming soon, I …