Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Then say hello... to the killer inside me...

I don't usually read a novel in one day anymore. That was for the time when my job involved endless rail journeys and the occasional flight. I remember reading Speak, Memory on a 14 hour rail journey from Peterhead to Totnes, almost the entire length of Britain. It was the end of the Glastonbury festival, I remembering changing trains at Bristol and there was mud all over the platforms. And, of course, many many hippies boarded the train to head back into Devon and Cornwall, two counties where the hippie is still free to roam, more of less unmaligned (the hippie hunting season in the SouthWest being both short and generally well-observed, it runs from October through the first week of December. During this time, it's a common sight to see someone struggling home having "bagged" a couple of rainbow people).


Somehow, the memoirs of an ultra-privileged high-born Russian, his flight from tyranny, his student days whacking tennis balls and fannying around on boats, all this was a perfect way to withdraw from hippies doing all the things that hippies will do - on this particular occasion, moaning about "fascist ticket inspectors" and "why can't we smoke?"

Today was another escape, but it was hippie-free. Today I read Jim Thompson's 1952 crime classic, The Killer Inside Me, and experienced a great rush of euphoria, not for the grisly goings-on, but that great feeling when you find a new cultural worker who has turned out top-notch material for the world to enjoy.

For anyone who has not heard of Jim Thompson or this particular book, and who has a liking for noir, I recommend it with all my heart and brain. It put me in mind of the similarly excellent and compelling early novels of James Ellroy. I won't bang on about the story or attempt to say anything penetrating. But, thanks Jim, I don't believe in people being "up there, looking down", but you just made my day.

(There is also a tune inspired by Thompson's book, Killer Inside Me by MC 900 ft Jesus, on the brilliant Welcome to My Dream album)

*** Apologies to any hippies who may read this *** While I thrill to Storming Heaven and the action going on in San Francisco in the 60s, and yes, I love Jefferson Airplane, I fail to see how pushing the envelope of consciousness has resolved into having dreddlocks and being covered in mud and juggling... send explanations to!


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