RARA-AVIS: Latimer and Ted Lewis, Again

Sat, 14 Aug 1999 00:29:32 EDT

I couldn't find "The Dead Don't Care" (a line also incidentally used as a refrain in an essay by Thomas Lynch, the poet/undertaker who won the [U.S.] National Book Award a few years ago--he has to be hard-boiled--he's an undertaker, after all)--so I read "Headed for a Hearse" instead. It's not as good as "Lady in the Morgue," but still is great fun. It also falls under that earlier discussed genre--the locked-room hard-boiled crime novel. There's also an unforgettable scene where Crane uses some gangland thugs to torture a guy for information--with a chrome lemon-squeezer on the hand. Is there anyone today who is using humor/screwballness like Latimer? I'm thinking of something that is quite violent, bleak, etc., but also damn funny. I've heard that publishers are pretty wary of humor in hard crime novels.

Could someone briefly fill in a few quick blanks on Ted Lewis again. I just read a book called "GBH," which I take it is the same as "Grievous Bodily Harm." My copy has copyright 1980 by Lewis' estate. Was it published earlier (and before or after "Get Carter")? GBH is not as good as "Get Carter," but it's pretty strong. It's ending falls off, relying, as best as I could surmise, on a little literary legerdemain (patterns and repetitions that only make sense within the context of the book) and madness. Did I miss something? Also, could someone on the other side of the pond briefly inform me/the list about pornography laws in the UK. Most of what the protagonist produces--not the snuff films of course--would be perfectly legal and big industry here in the U.S. (at least now and for about three+ decades?)?


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