RARA-AVIS: Re: Gerald Kersh

From: Max Gilbert ( jmaxgilbert@yahoo.com)
Date: 01 Feb 2005

Duncan has a short bio of Kersh up his Kersh web site (or is it Harlan Ellison's Kersh web site?): http://harlanellison.com/kersh/biog.htm

There's also a Yahoo "Gerald Kersh" group for those who like to look at book covers (among other things).

I just ordered a copy of FOWLER'S END from a British ebay auction--if only it weren't so difficult to get his books in the US! His short stories are also excellent, although many tend more toward horror than the material covered by this group. It would be very nice to see a collected stories or some other reprints.


(Current reading: Ross Thomas/Oliver Bleek's THE BRASS GO BETWEEN.)

> Ah, Gerald Kersh! Kersh was one of the writers a used book store
> clerk (and later store owner) steered my teenage self to more than
> forty years ago. I owe everything to that fellow who helped me out
> of rural Georgia and a terrible school system.
> Subdividing "everything" I would rank Kersh reasonably up there on
> the individual author hit parade.
> I wish Paul Duncan was still on this list. Duncan, author of NOIR
> FICTION, DARK HIGHWAYS (Pocket Essentials 2000) among other works,
> is the premier Kersh expert and I can't wait to read the biography
> upon which he has labored for some years. As an aside, I emailed
> Duncan a few months ago about Kersh. One of my passions is boxing
> and I had picked up an old boxing magazine from the 1950s with an
> article about "the old Mongoose" Archie Moore, who was light
> heavyweight champion circa 1952-1962. The article had a picture
> showed Archie on the top of steps leading from his home in San
> California to the beach. Each step was named and labeled for
> sportswriters who had helped him along the way. One of the steps
> labeled "Gerald Kersh" and when I wrote Duncan he was glad to
> that Kersh had written an Esquire article about Moore.
> NIGHT AND THE CITY is an excellent novel and I my recommendation to
> that of Max. Let me quote from Paul Duncan on the book: "NIGHT
> THE CITY (1938) is a novel of disgust. Of all Kersh's novels, it
> the one where you most feel the fetid stink of the city, and the
> worthless lives of the people in it. As one reviwer put it, 'this
> novel of the London underworld has something of the realism of a
> Hogarth picture and the satire of a Swift. Pimps, prostitutes,
> panderers, petty crooks and odd characters move about in low joints
> and night clubs, fleecing and being fleeced by each other.'"
> I agree and don't believe either of the film versions (Richard
> Widmark or Robert Duvall) did it complete justice.
> PRELUDE TO A CERTAIN MIDNIGHT (1947) is a very fine novel but
> provokes a strong reaction among those who expect good to always
> triumph.
> Back to NIGHT AND THE CITY for a moment: Kersh brought back Harry
> Fabian in the novel THE SONG OF THE FLEA (Doubleday 1948). It has
> been too many decades for me to give a reasoned review of this
> novel. I only remember that I did not care for it and especially
> thought the use of Harry Fabian was ill-advised.
> Under the same caution of years-passed, I recall fondly the long
> (22,000 words) story by Kersh "Clock Without Hands" as one of
> interest to Rara list members. You can find the story in one of
> most common Kersh U.S. collections MEN WITHOUT BONES (Paperback
> Library 1962). I don't have a bibliography handy but am not
> confident that this long story was in the U.K. collection also
> MEN WITHOUT BONES. The story is also in the rather common British
> collection THE BEST OF GERALD KERSH (Heinemann 1960). While I
> check this at present, I believe that Kersh's use of the
title "Clock
> Without Hands" predates its use by my fellow Georgian Carson
> McCullers.
> Richard Moore

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