Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Two more excellent books from London Books: James Curtis’s most well-known novel, They Drive By Night (adapted for the screen in 1938 by Arthur B. Woods) and James Westerby’s wonderfully titled Wide Boys Never Work (adapted for the screen in 1956, entitled Soho Incident). Both also come with informative and stylish introductions by Jonathan Meades and Iain Sinclair respectively. I’ve been after Wide Boys for years, and the novel doesn’t disappoint. It’s another London lowlife novel that captures a time and place as well as anything written during the period. While They Drive By Night is Curtis classic, coming hard on the heels of the author’s The Gilt Kid, that London Books published last year. If you are into the likes of Robin Cook/Derek Raymond, Gerald Kersh, Alexander Baron (The Lowlife) and Emanuel Litvonoff (Journey Through a Small Planet), you’ll love both these books. Curtis ended his life in relative poverty, haunting the pubs of Kilburn and Camden, while Westerby (1909-1968), after writing a number of other novels in the Horace McCoy-James M. Cain school, headed to Hollywood, courtesty of Disney, and stayed for the remainder of his life, churning out various screenplays and hobnobbing with the rich and famous. Both writers and books are highly recommended.

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