Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Black-market whisky at twenty-five shillings a bottle

D. J. Taylor at the TLS on the lost worlds of Patrick Hamilton:

As one of the great fictional chroniclers of drinking he takes himself to anywhere drink is likely to be found: to the public bars of upmarket hotels (always a good venue for impressing women) to secret gin and brandy orgies in pebble-dashed front parlours. Two of his books are set almost entirely in pubs; in at least another three, practically every significant event takes place against a background of clinked tumblers, last orders and the barmaid’s saccharine smile. Mr Stimpson and Mr Gorse, perhaps the most alcoholically charged of all his novels, has more than twenty separate scenes in which characters either buy drinks, have drinks bought for them, or are discovered in some out-of-the-way corner of the bar with the first of the evening at their elbow.

I have been very much meaning to read Hamilton ever since I first discovered he had written a vaguely unsung cult-favorite novel with the truly excellent title Hangover Square: A Story of Darkest Earl's Court. But somehow I never got around to getting hold of a copy. Now I am resolved: a Hamilton binge this summer. (Other summer reading intentions: Beckett; August Wilson; and possibly if I find myself with a bit of time on my hands--only really this is not going to happen--Proust...)

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