RARA-AVIS: uk hb

From: Scatalogic@aol.com
Date: 22 Jul 2002

UK HB has not picked up in the way that I had hoped it would. So, to give a kick-start, I have been moved by an article in today's Guardian to pen something that may be of interest. The article is by Jake Arnott and concerns the film of Graham Greene's Brighton Rock, both of which should be of interest to Avians.

It is timely, in that I was going to try and start a discussion on Greene as a possible HB writer. It would not be hard work to draw a line from Conrad through Greene that ended up at Le Carre - both Greene and Le Carre had characters featured in our recent HB top 100 characters; both are quintissentailly British authors and neither is, in my opinion hard boiled. I love the pair of 'em tho.

Arnott is one of the current darlings of the UK crime scene and author of, The Long Firm and He Kills Coppers, both of which have caused a stir. I must admit to only having read The Long Firm. I hate it.

A lazy attempt to rewrite the 60s regime of the Krays as interesting, poorly researched, almost entirely aimed at an audience with less than a nodding aquaintance with the subject matter he handles and populated not by characters but by cyphers - usually thinly rewritten pen-sketches of well known figures of the 1960s London scene - weighed down by the determinist bullshit Arnott heaps on them. Despite fantastic police corruption, government corruption, show-business/gangster interaction in the real history of the time - painted over with a thin sheen of journalistic and psychological bollocks - Arnott even manages to fuck up the timing of the novel. That being said, it was his first. I have a personal interest in the history of that era and particularly one character, Joe Meek, who comes from my home town and many of who's family I know. I have not read He Kills Coppers.

In today's paper Arnott starts well. I must admit that I cannot consider Greene, or Le Carre, his heir, as hard boiled. But, there is within them what drew me to the genre. Just as Jim Thompson is described as the dime store Dostoyevsky, so, they too, have written work that is the public school, university, English Dostoyevsky. Deeply pessimistic/realistic, living characters examined to within an inch of their fictional lives.

This article should be on-line, at www.guardian.co.uk, by the way. Most of you, I hope, will have read the masterful Brighton Rock, if not try and do so. I prefer, and voted for the teenaged assasin of Greene's This Gun For Hire/Gun For Sale, Raven, in the top 100 chacters' vote. I love Brighton Rock but find a bit overwrought, also, a novel too personally tied to Greene's Catholicism.

I don't quite understand Arnott's annoyance that fee-paying school, Oxford college, National aristoocratically owned newspaper sub Greene should not produce a "real" criminal in Pinkie. There is also, I am sad to say, a cultural cringe and a deep misunderstanding of what the best of the genre is
(to me) about.

This is a quote.

"He [Pinkie] is archetypal of the small-time nastiness of English criminality but also predicts future manifestations of home grown youth culture. Strangely he prefigures American icons of juvenile delinquency (Brando, Dean and so on). But without their transatlantic glamour or essential wholesomeness he never quite achieves this virile degeneracy.

"This callow-faced rebel is not just a troubled teenager - he is utterly nihilistic......

And........ what?

I shall now leave that one open to discussion. I have found that nihilism is at the heart of the best of HB, I think Thompson is, Hammer sometimes is and Chandler has his moments too. To refer to, I am assuming, Rebel Without a Cause and On the Waterfront as somehow more realistic expressions of teenage rebellion..... hey? I'm gone.

However I think there is a point for discussion here here though.

Graham Greene - genius Jake Arnott - not a genius

I dunno, do any Americans out there consider Dean or Brando as part of the HB/nihilistic fiction story??? Soon we shall talk Derek Raymond - a true genius, both of the genre and of the nihilism that haunts it. It's his own fault for bringing Dostoyevsky into it.

Yours waiting to be slated.

Colin. Evenin' All

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