August 2nd, 2010

book

Reading - Night and the City

This short novel is by Gerald Kersh and follows the lives of a group of associated people who all work in Soho in the 30s. One is a night club hostess, another a hustler and pimp (or ponce to use the period vernacular), another is a would be sculptor who in the course of the book turns his hand to waiting, running a nightclub and wrestling (perhaps a slice of autobiography there). There is not much in the way of plot although there is something of a climax as the Coronation approaches. One review calls it "heavily plotted" which I just don't see. Things happen, certainly but it's more about generating the feel of Soho between the wars. As a gritty, noirish, slice of life, it works very well. It has a suprisingly modern feel about it, chilledchimp said the section she read looked like it was about the 60s, even though it was published in 1938. However those dates were only 22 years apart, and the war and its aftermath took up 15 of those (rationing lasted until 1954) so perhaps social change, or at least the way people spoke, was not so great.

I also enjoyed The World, the Flesh & the Devil, a collection of Kersh's fantasy stories but that was a while ago.