Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Wednesday noir

First of all, check out Charlie Williams interviewed by Ray Banks at Allan Guthrie's Noir Originals site (there's lots of other great stuff there too, including Dave White's interview with Charles Ardai of Hard Case Crime fame).

Thanks to the kind offices of Ken Bruen, I have just had an excellent correspondence with Cathi Unsworth, whose The Not Knowing I read recently and loved. She sent me a copy of her fascinating essay on Patrick Hamilton and Derek Raymond; I have a serious obsession with Raymond, but have never read Hamilton, though I've meaning to for a while (ever since I learned of his amazingly titled novel Hangover Square).

Cathi's essay appeared in an interesting-looking magazine called Strange Attractor (here's the table of contents for the issue, though the essay in question is not available online). At one point she gives the most amazing description of drinking ("like the effect on the body of good news, without the good news"!) from Hamilton's novel The Siege of Pleasure, the middle volume of a trilogy titled Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky (Amazon UK only, I think):

A permeating coma, a warm haze of noises and conversation, wrapped her comfortably around – together with something more. What that something more was she did not quite know. She sat there and let it flow through her. It was a glow, a kind of premonition. It was certainly a spiritual, but much more emphatically a physical, premonition of good about to befall. It was like the effect on the body of good news, without the good news – a delicious short cut to that inconstant elation which was so arduously won by virtue from the everyday world. It engendered the desire to celebrate nothing for no reason.

I see that Hamilton's papers are held by the Ransom Collection at UT Austin (their bio includes the attractive typo "extra-martial affair," that's a good one--surely someone needs to do an edition of the unpublished stuff, including the incomplete manuscript of "Memoirs of a Heavy-Drinking Man"?). And here's a nice piece about Hamilton by Dan Rhodes for the Guardian.

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