Thursday, June 23, 2005

Fags and Lager

The good people at Serpent's Tail sent me the book I've been dying to read for months, Fags and Lager by Charlie Williams. And it is spectacular! If you like any kind of noir, read it at once (or better yet, read the first installment Deadfolk, and then check out this one). Serpent's Tail have a great deal with free international shipping so there is no Amazon UK shipping extortion bother. Here's a taste of the narrator Royston Blake, a genuine charmer (and also Head Doorman at Hoppers, the premier drinking establishment of Mangel, a shit town in the west of England):

He were quiet for a bit, then I heard him mumbling summat. Then the line went dead.

I called him back.


'You hang up on us again, you fuckin' wanker,' I says nice and calm. 'You hang up again an' I'll--'

He only hung up again, didn't he.

I felt a mite aggrieved at that, and I don't mind telling you I took it out on the blower. Weren't long before I calmed down, mind. A professional keeps his place tidy, so I went downstairs to get the broom from under the stair. After I'd swept all the bits of blower up I went looking for summat with a hood to wear. There were nothing like that in me wardrobe or under the stair with the other coats, but I found an old parka in Fin's room. It were well tight round the shoulders and gut and chest and arms and head and neck but otherwise it were a good fit. I zipped it right up and clocked meself in the mirror. You couldn't hardly see through the snorkel bit at the front but that's how I wanted it. I didn't want no one recognising us in town, things being as they was, and this were spot on for that. Right smart I looked. Bit like an Action Man. You know, the one with the parka. Only thing letting us down were the trousers. So I went and put some on.

It's one of the best first-person voices I've seen for ages: these books are on my top-ten list from the past year, seriously. I am not sure if Charlie will be able to keep the title for the US release (fags is bad enough, but "lager" is a weirdly meaningless term here). I think he should stick by his guns and get it published exactly as is, but my alternate (equally English but more respectably misleading) title is BOILED SWEETS. Anyway, I hope there will be at least one more coming to round out the trilogy.

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