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Derek Raymond
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message 1: by Nigeyb (last edited Apr 21, 2014 11:57PM) (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
Derek Raymond is a new name to me but one I instinctively feel will be suitably Hamilton-esque to justify a thread here at The Patrick Hamilton Appreciation Society.



My library has none of his work excepting a copy of his autobiography - The Hidden Files. In the little synopsis in the catalogue it states...

The autobiography of Derek Raymond - Fifties wide-boy and amateur art-dealer, Sixties mainstream novelist and Eighties crime-writer. It reflects the contradictions in his personality - a mixture of bleakness and urbanity, black despair and courteous generosity.

That alone is enough to make me sit up and want to hold a copy in my hands.



Here's a short bio from Serpent's Tail...

Derek Raymond was born Robin Cook in 1931. The son of a textile magnate, he dropped out of Eton aged sixteen and spent much of his early career among criminals and was employed at various times as a pornographer, organiser of illegal gambling, money launderer, pig-slaughterer and minicab driver.. The Factory series followed his early novels, The Crust on Its Uppers and A State of Denmark. His literary memoir The Hidden Files was published in 1992. He died in London in 1994.

According to his Wikipedia page, he is credited with being a founder of British noir. Looks like the start of another literary love affair. I'm confident a few of you will be stunned this writer has passed me by, but he has, however a read of his Wikipedia page convinces me that he is another writer I need to explore.



I've ordered a copy of He Died With His Eyes Open (1984)

Apparently, He Died With His Eyes Open inaugurated the Factory series, nominal police procedurals narrated by the unnamed protagonist, a sergeant at London Metropolitan Police’s Department of Unexplained Deaths, also known as A14. A14 handles the crummy lowlife murders, in contrast with attention-grabbing homicides handled by the prestigious Serious Crimes Division, better known as Scotland Yard.

Let's talk Derek Raymond.


message 2: by Mark (new)

Mark Rubenstein | 1364 comments A recent business trip to Los Angeles led to my very first visit to Amoeba Records, which must surely be the largest independent record shop in the world... it's absolutely massive and impossible to enter and exit without at least five or six hours of browsing in between. I managed to find and purchase a boatload, including one album that I'd been looking for for quite a few years... an album of Derek Raymond reading passages from his novel 'I Was Dora Suarez,' with ambient musical backing by Gallon Drunk. It may be the sort of thing that turns up cheaply on eBay, I've never really looked. But I can recommend the album for anyone who is interested in the works of Raymond... it's imminently listenable and packs a hell of a slab of noir sleaze.


message 3: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
Mark wrote: "my very first visit to Amoeba Records"

Sounds amazing - you lucky man.

Mark wrote: "I managed to purchase an album of Derek Raymond reading passages from his novel 'I Was Dora Suarez,' with ambient musical backing by Gallon Drunk"

I could never have dreamt that such an artefact existed however, the minute you mention it, I realise that it had to have existed. There was no conceivable way that group of people could not have come together for that purpose.

There's a clip on YouTube here.

Mark wrote: "I can recommend the album for anyone who is interested in the works of Raymond... it's imminently listenable and packs a hell of a slab of noir sleaze. "

I'm the most recent of recent converts, and one who has yet to actually read any Derek Raymond however "a hell of a slab of noir sleaze" sounds irresistible.



By the by Mark, I've recently discovered a newish London band called Fat White Family. Click here for their bandcamp page. I feel pretty confident they'll tick a few of your boxes. And a few pics on LastFM here. Annoyingly they played Brighton, where I live, this weekend, whilst I was away enjoying the All Tomorrow's Parties festival at Pontins in Camber Sands.


message 4: by Mark (new)

Mark Rubenstein | 1364 comments Thanks for the Fat White Family tip... I listened through once, and it certainly left me wanting to listen a second time. Which, you know, is more than I can say for most contemporary bands. Who did you see at the ATP?


message 5: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
Mark wrote: "Thanks for the Fat White Family tip.... I listened through once, and it certainly left me wanting to listen a second time. Which, you know, is more than I can say for most contemporary bands."

My pleasure. It's early days for me too, but they seem like they might have something interesting about them.

Mark wrote: "Who did you see at the ATP? "

Stuff I enjoyed included... hanging out with friends, watching Lawrence of Belgravia (him from Felt, Denim, and Go Kart Mozart) (which was very bit as good as I'd hoped), seeing Television perform "Marquee Moon" (bit perfunctory, but the music shone through), dancing to pop music, the Pop Quiz (always a highlight - the quizmaster is like a stand up comedian), and Low (Lynchian magic). Other stuff that was OK included Dinosaur Jr, Tortoise, God Speed! You Black Emperor, Har Mar Superstar, and various Spanish bands. I've been to six or seven ATPs. This was the penultimate one and I think they're right to knock it on the head. It felt like the magic and enthusiasm was well and truly on the wane. Still enjoyable but not up the standard of previous events with a bit of a half arsed line up.


message 6: by Nigeyb (last edited Apr 21, 2014 11:53PM) (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
I've just started reading...





He Died With His Eyes Open (1984) - so far, so incredible. Very powerful and taut. Noir ++


message 7: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
^ I am really enjoying He Died With His Eyes Open and will definitely be reading the rest of the Factory novels.


#Noirtastic


message 8: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
^ Seeing as Mark mentions Gallon Drunk earlier in this thread...


For anyone who enjoys their music, I can recommend their latest album "The Soul of the Hour"...

http://www.allmusic.com/album/the-sou...

http://www.gallondrunk.com


message 9: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
I've just finished...





He Died With His Eyes Open by Derek Raymond (1984)

My first novel by Derek Raymond (born Robin Cook in 1931, and who died in London in 1994). The son of a textile magnate, he dropped out of Eton aged sixteen and was employed at various times as a pornographer, organiser of illegal gambling, money launderer, pig-slaughterer and minicab driver.

Much of this work experience is reflected in He Died With His Eyes Open, the first of the Factory novels, nominal police procedurals narrated by the unnamed protagonist, a sergeant at London's Metropolitan Police Department of Unexplained Deaths, also known as A14. A14 handles the lowlife murders, and which are in stark contrast to the headline-grabbing homicides handled by the prestigious Serious Crimes Division, better known as Scotland Yard.

He Died With His Eyes Open was a precursor to the work of David Peace and James Ellroy and, if that makes you sit up and take notice, then you should most certainly read this book. I am now resolved to read the other four Factory novels.

The tale takes place in the London of the mid 1980s, and the brutal killing of Charles Staniland - a middle-aged alcoholic failure - is handed to the sergeant at A14. The detection primarily involves the sergeant listening to cassette tapes made by the victim in which he describes his relationships and his personal reflections on his complex and dysfunctional world. This is not a standard crime novel, and - like the best genre fiction - Derek Raymond pushes the boundaries to create a bleak and surprising study of obsession and evil, that also evokes the matt black darkness of Thatcher's London.

Beautifully written and quietly profound, what more could could anyone want from a crime novel?

4/5


message 10: by Nigeyb (last edited May 04, 2014 06:09AM) (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
My copy, enjoying the sunshine..




"He Died With His Eyes Open" by Derek Raymond (1984)


message 11: by Nigeyb (last edited Sep 22, 2015 07:31AM) (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
Poised to start Factory #2...



1. He Died With His Eyes Open (1984)
2. The Devil's Home on Leave (1985)
3. How the Dead Live (1986)
4. I Was Dora Suarez (1990)
5. Dead Man Upright (1993)



"The Devil's Home on Leave" (1985) by Derek Raymond

#anticipation


message 12: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
^ I have just finished....



"The Devil's Home on Leave" (1985) by Derek Raymond

The Devil's Home on Leave is more traditional than He Died With His Eyes Open. The first book pushed the boundaries of crime writing, and was more literature than procedural, a lyrical work that was both original and surprising. That said, there is still much to enjoy in The Devil's Home on Leave. We meet a disturbing psychopath who, through the sergeant's diligent and fearless work, is turned inside out and brought to life with a chilling authenticity.

Click here to read my full review of "The Devil's Home on Leave" (Factory 2) (1985)

Click here to read my review of "He Died With His Eyes Open" (Factory 1) (1976)


message 13: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
I'm building up to number three...



How the Dead Live



I'm trying to eke out the enjoyment of reading them by spacing them out.

I also intend to get my real world Book Group to read the first one when it's my turn to choose in a few months - or perhaps go straight for I Was Dora Suarez?

I Was Dora Suarez seems to be the one that is best regarded of the five - though how it can be better than number one remains to be seen.


message 14: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
I've just started How the Dead Live. Good to be back with the master.


message 15: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod




How the Dead Live (1986) is the third book in Derek Raymond's Factory series.

The Factory novels, nominal police procedurals are narrated by an unnamed protagonist, a sergeant at London's Metropolitan Police Department of Unexplained Deaths, also known as A14. A14 handles the lowlife murders, and which are in stark contrast to the headline-grabbing homicides handled by the prestigious Serious Crimes Division, better known as Scotland Yard.

In How the Dead Live the unnamed Sergeant is sent out of London to investigate a missing person case in a small English village called Thornhill. The complicity and sleaze that is rife in the village is presumably meant to mirror that of broader British society. This was written in the mid-1980s and I wonder what Raymond would have made of our own era.

As with the previous two books, the prose is bleak and our uncompromising hero is like a blow torch, incinerating virtually everything that gets in his way. Unlike the previous books, he is discernibly angrier here, and his dialogue frequently seems to be that of a somewhat camp playground bully. I preferred him in the first book, when he went about his business in a quieter and more understated manner. Still, there is some predictable pleasure in him taking down a selection of corrupt fat cats in addition to some of his own colleagues.

This is the weakest of the three Factory novels that I have read so far. That said, I know that number four, I Was Dora Suarez (1990), is very highly regarded, and, for all its flaws, this is still compelling and I raced through it, and enjoyed the whole thing.

4/5


message 16: by Nigeyb (last edited Sep 22, 2015 08:18AM) (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
I have just started reading the fourth book in Derek Raymond’s Factory novels…





"I Was Dora Suarez” (Factory 4) (1990) by Derek Raymond

Wish me luck, I’ve heard it’s a tad grissly and the first 21 pages support that view.

Like you need me to tell you that the five books in Derek Raymond's Factory series are...

1. He Died With His Eyes Open (1984)
2. The Devil's Home on Leave (1985)
3. How the Dead Live (1986)
4. I Was Dora Suarez (1990)
5. Dead Man Upright (1993)

Click here to read my review of "He Died With His Eyes Open" (Factory 1) (1984)

Click here to read my review of "The Devil's Home on Leave” (Factory 2) (1985)

Click here to read my review of "How the Dead Live” (Factory 3) (1986)

I've also just ordered a copy of...



"The Crust on Its Uppers" by our man Derek Raymond

Those who search for brilliantly written mystery novels exchange the same few names when they meet— names unknown (except for Chandler and Hammett) to general literary readers. If you’re one of those seekers you know Derek Raymond, author of bleak yet intriguing, compellingly narrated novels of murder in England. Raymond’s forgotten first novel, The Crust on Its Uppers is a great oddity.—Puncture


message 17: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
I have just finished reading the fourth book in Derek Raymond’s Factory novels…





"I Was Dora Suarez” (Factory 4) (1990) by Derek Raymond

Click here to read my review


message 18: by Nigeyb (last edited Mar 29, 2016 09:25AM) (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
I've just started the fifth and final Factory novel - "Dead Man Upright" - it's a goodie






message 19: by Nigeyb (last edited Mar 30, 2016 03:55AM) (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
I've just finished "Dead Man Upright", the fifth and final Factory novel -





"Dead Man Upright" by Derek Raymond

Sadly the series does not end on a high despite some great writing.

2/5

Click here to read my review of "Dead Man Upright" (Factory 5) (1990)


message 20: by Nigeyb (last edited Jan 17, 2017 02:27AM) (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
Just listened to a great podcast...


Backlisted Podcast
A State of Denmark - Derek Raymond



In a bid to get our fear and creeping dread about the state of the world in early for 2017, author Travis Elborough (A Walk in The Park, The Bus We Loved, and The Long Player Goodbye) joins us to discuss A State of Denmark, the dystopian vision of England by Derek Raymond (a/k/a Robin Cook). Worst. Happy New Year. Programme. Ever.

I highly recommend it - and I think Backlist might also become part of my regular listening repertoire - it's jeffing great, they even mention TPHAS fave Cathi Unsworth AND Jumpin' Jack Flash: David Litvinoff and the Rock’n’Roll Underworld. Hoo and indeed hah!

They also discuss The Crust on Its Uppers - which they actually preferred.

Backlist? A regular podcast presented by Unbound's John Mitchinson and Andy Miller (author, The Year Of Reading Dangerously) a/k/a Leavis and Butthead. Bringing old books back to the surface.

As an aside, I also have a copy of The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books (and Two Not-So-Great Ones) Saved My Life by Andy Miller - which also sounds fab. I'll let you know.




message 21: by CQM (new)

CQM | 214 comments I've never listened to a podcast before now but having looked through all the Blacklisted podcasts there's a load that I'd love to listen to.
Well done Nigey as always!


message 22: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
Thanks CQM - let me know what you make of it.


I am definitely going back to listen to a few more and will subscribe going forward. It's very in tune with the stuff we discuss here at TPHAS.

It emerged out of Unbound - a way to connect authors and readers. Authors present a pitch, you pledge, and when the goal is reached the book is written. It's really that simple. A Pledge music for writers then. I've not investigated it yet but anything that promotes culture gets a big tick in my box o'life.

Here's how the Backlisted Podcast was launched in Dec 2015, and which I love...

So we’ve started a podcast. It’s called Backlisted and the simple premise is that every fortnight we choose an old book we think everyone should read. Unbound are sponsoring it and it is hosted by me and Andy Miller, an old friend and former colleague from the early (glory) days of Waterstone’s now better known as the author of the wonderful memoir The Year of Reading Dangerously.

Each episode also features a special guest. The first three are Lissa Evans on J.L. Carr’s A Month in the Country, Linda Grant on Jean Rhys’s Good Morning, Midnight and Jonathan Coe on David Nobb’s It Had To Be You. There’s also a ‘tenuous link’ cameo by Unbound’s Mathew Clayton. We intend for it to be warm, enthusiastic and cheerful – rather like the atmosphere of Waterstone’s staffroom in 1992, only with better drinks and (marginally) less swearing.

Backlisted is not about promoting new books, either by ourselves, Unbound or anyone else. The decision to do it sprung out of two related observations: one, that people keep asking us what they should read; and two, that almost all the existing book podcasts are driven by what is new rather than what is good. If nothing else, if you do acquire the books we recommend you’ll have a pretty interesting bookshelf to dust and share pictures of on Instagram.

Franz Kafka once wrote that a book was ‘an axe to break the frozen sea within us’ which perhaps goes a little too far (a Haynes car manual comes in useful when you’re trying to install a new alternator) but we do think, in Andy’s words, that books ‘represent the best that human beings are capable of’. We also think that the act of reading a whole book – in a world too often dominated by snap judgements and borrowed one-liners – actually makes us wiser, more tolerant human beings.


http://blog.unbound.com/the-backliste...




message 23: by CQM (new)

CQM | 214 comments Well I've already listened to the A Month in the Country podcast and it was most entertaining. There's plenty others there that I'll be listening to in time.
" almost all the existing book podcasts are driven by what is new rather than what is good" that's the line that gets me on-board.


message 24: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
CQM wrote: "....almost all the existing book podcasts are driven by what is new rather than what is good"

...that's the line that gets me on-board.."


You and me both

CQM wrote: ".I've already listened to the A Month in the Country podcast and it was most entertaining"

A Month in the Country is one of my all time faves. I eagerly anticipate listening to that episode

Thanks as ever CQM


message 25: by CQM (new)

CQM | 214 comments No Nigey, thank you. You've taken my podcast virginity and for doing it so gently I shall be eternally grateful.


message 26: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
I thought I'd reply to Ruth's comment over here....


Ruth wrote: "I decided to go outside my comfort zone and leap straight in with (the) Derek Raymond (Backlisted Podcast) as I'd seen some discussion about him on this group. I was intrigued to find out more about him even though I don't think I'll be reading any of his books and it's a good discussion as far as I've got."

I must admit the DR Backlisted discussion inspires me to read both A State of Denmark (which arrived in the post today) and The Crust on Its Uppers (which I've had, but not read, for a good year now).

I think the Factory novels are a very mixed bag (the first one is by and away the best) however I suspect that these other two books will both be very interesting. I'll let you know.


message 27: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
I'm on the Absolute Beginners by Colin MacInnes podcast from the Backlisted back catalogue.

Yet again they namecheck The Crust on Its Uppers. It's going to have to read - and soon.


message 28: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
Nigeyb wrote: "I'm on the Absolute Beginners by Colin MacInnes podcast from the Backlisted back catalogue.

Yet again they namecheck The Crust on Its Uppers. It's going to have to read - and soon."


I'm now about halfway through 'The Crust on Its Uppers' and, as I mention on the Frank Norman thread, it makes an interesting companion read to 'Stand On Me' with Derek Raymond using many of the same slang terms.

The first 80 pages are enjoyable but lacking direction. The excessive use of slang makes it almost impenetrable in places (despite the book's selective glossary) however the storyteller in Derek Raymond seems to be getting the upper hand now. Having already read Derek Raymond's sporadically brilliant Factory novels this is often his MO. I am feeling quietly confident that this is going to pick up now.

Watch this space.




message 29: by Mark (new)

Mark Rubenstein | 1364 comments Keep me posted... there's still room for me to be convinced that a re-reading is in order.


message 30: by Nigeyb (last edited Jul 23, 2017 06:47AM) (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
Will do Mark


Reading Derek Raymond The Crust on its Uppers (1962)


message 31: by Nigeyb (last edited Aug 07, 2017 11:12PM) (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
Finished! I love good London novels, and 'The Crust on Its Uppers' works well as a London novel (though the action later relocates to Kent and then Europe) and so gets an extra star on that basis alone. Whilst not quite up there with, say, Colin MacInnes, Sam Selvon, or Patrick Hamilton, it is very evocative, especially when Cook reigns in the Cockneyisms.

Click here to read my review

Robin Cook

Robin Cook aka Derek Raymond - Portrait of the artist as photo-Modernist
Portrait of the artist as proto-Modernist

Derek Raymond The Crust on its Uppers (1962) - photo of Raymond Revuebar

Click here to read a marvellous interview with Robin Cook/Derek Raymond from 1992 in which he mentions TPHAS favourite David Litvinoff, and Emmanuel Litvinoff, including....

Inquiries as to the exact nature of David Litvinoff's offence are hedged around with euphemism. 'Well, as the French say: 'He lost his pedals in a serious manner.' Great bicycling nation, the French.' History records that the Krays grew tired of Litvinoff, strung him up by his ankles and cut his throat so badly he needed 170 stitches. What they failed to achieve he did for himself in a house later bought by Bob Geldof.


message 32: by Mark (new)

Mark Rubenstein | 1364 comments So... I'll add it to my stack, but near the bottom. Maybe I'll dig it more this time?


message 33: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
I think you might Mark. If you come to it fresh from Frank Norman and with your expectations at a realistic novel. I'm definitely now interested in reading the rest of his 1960s novels writing as Robin Cook....


http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/2010/1...


message 34: by Mark (new)

Mark Rubenstein | 1364 comments When I read it the first time, I was yet to have taken the plunge into the deep end of London fictions... so I suspect I might find it easier to get into this next time round.


message 35: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
I reckon so, but that's not to say it's essential by any stretch. But he's got a certain something - equal parts frustrating and exceptional. I just reread my post above and, as you doubtless realised, it should have read....

I think you might Mark. If you come to it fresh from Frank Norman and with your expectations at a realistic level. I'm definitely now interested in reading the rest of his 1960s novels writing as Robin Cook....


message 36: by Nigeyb (last edited Aug 07, 2017 05:08AM) (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
This is the Derek Raymond/Robin Cook bibliography from Wikipedia...


The Crust on Its Uppers, 1962, originally published under the name of Robin Cook, reprinted by Serpent’s Tail, 2000

Bombe Surprise, Hutchinson, 1963, originally published under the name of Robin Cook

A State of Denmark, c. 1964, originally published under the name of Robin Cook, reprinted by Serpent’s Tail, 1994

The Legacy Of The Stiff Upper Lip, originally published under the name of Robin Cook, 1966

Public Parts and Private Places, 1967, originally published under the name of Robin Cook, U.S. title Private Parts in Public Places, 1969

The Tenants of Dirt Street, originally published under the name of Robin Cook, 1971

Le Soleil Qui S'éteint, Gallimard, 1982; translation by Rosine Fitzgerald, of Sick Transit, which remains unpublished

He Died With His Eyes Open, Secker & Warburg, 1984, the first book in the Factory series

The Devil's Home on Leave, Secker & Warburg, 1985, the second book in the Factory series

How the Dead Live, Secker & Warburg, 1986, the third book in the Factory series

Nightmare in the Street (1988), Serpent's Tail, 2006

Cauchemar dans la rue, Rivages, 1988, translation by Jean-Paul Gratias, of Nightmare in the Street, first chapter adapted under the same title in Mike Ripley and Maxim Jakubowski (editors), Fresh Blood, Do-Not Press, 1996

Every Day Is a Day in August, in Maxim Jakubowski (editor), New Crimes, Constable Robinson, 1989

I Was Dora Suarez, Scribner, 1990, the fourth book in the Factory series

The Hidden Files, Little, Brown, 1992, an essay of episodic memoirs, excerpted correspondence, and emphatic literary principle

Changeless Susan, in Maxim Jakubowski (editor), More Murders For The Fireside, Pan, 1994

Dead Man Upright, Time Warner Books UK, 1993, the fifth book in the Factory series

Not Till the Red Fog Rises, Time Warner Books UK, 1994, excerpt adapted as Brand New Dead in Maxim Jakubowski (editor), London Noir, Serpent's Tail, 1995


message 37: by Nigeyb (last edited Aug 07, 2017 05:23AM) (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
I’ve just started 'The Hidden Files' reading which I’ve been looking forward to for quite some time so my expectation levels are set quite high…..


'The Hidden Files' (1992) by Derek Raymond



In 1960 Derek Raymond (aka Robin Cook), "an upper-class wide-boy", made front-page news when a Rubens and a Renoir disappeared. This autobiography by the Fifties wide-boy and amateur art-dealer, Sixties mainstream novelist and Eighties crime-writer, reflects the contradictions in his personality - a mixture of bleakness and urbanity, black despair and courteous generosity. These are the memoirs of a natural writer - one whose behaviour at times is reminiscent of the computer on which he writes, and its array of hidden files that hold the functions which make it the subtle and flexible machine that it is. Like the computer, the writer's performance is judged on the final, visible quality of his output, rather than the obscure, cryptic processes that contributed to it. The book represents an attempt to break the codes and gain access to the author's personality.

Derek Raymond - The Hidden Files - bookcover


message 38: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
Some thoughts on 'The Hidden Files'



'The Hidden Files' is Derek Raymond's 1992 memoir and, having heard lots of good things about it, my expectations were fairly high. I now realise Derek Raymond's defining characteristic is his inconsistency. When he's good he's great, usually when he's at his most disciplined, however all too often his writing meanders around. 'The Hidden Files' illustrates this perfectly. It's a non-linear, scattershot memoir interspersed with Derek Raymond's musings on what he calls the black novel which, so far as I could glean, are those novels with metaphysical content.

A lot of 'The Hidden Files' is fairly tedious and the lack of any kind of structure is frustrating especially as there are very enjoyable sections For example how he met Veronica Hull, or descriptions of his early childhood during the war years, but all too often he muses over something completely unrelated, his neighbours in France in 1992, or the nature of evil, or the black novel. Here's an excerpt chosen at random to give an idea of some of the content...
The writer of the black novel must take despair as his lover because, like all desperate men his absence of future is all he has. Though negative, this absence is most likely the only areas he has ever known (worse still if he once knew others). I try to breathe life into despair; adjusting the bed of Procrustes to a shape proper for man is what writing meant so me.

That's fairly typical of a lot of what's in this book. However the bits that are pure memoir, and when Derek Raymond stick to a particular story or theme, are sporadically very interesting. Perhaps he was not really sure what he was seeking to achieve with this book, written towards the end of his life (though seemingly unaware quite how close to the end), either way I was more bored than interested or entranced.

2.5/5

Click here to give my review a like


message 39: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
I've recently started....


Bombe Surprise by Robin Cook (aka Derek Raymond)

Robin Cook's second novel, published in 1963, is a satire about an authoritarian political party, Britain Strong Britain Free.

Amusing and readable so far.

Watch this space.




message 40: by Nigeyb (last edited Sep 29, 2018 09:16AM) (new)

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
Nigeyb wrote: "I've recently started....


Bombe Surprise by Robin Cook (aka Derek Raymond)"


Finished

Click here to read my review

3/5


message 41: by Mark (new)

Mark Rubenstein | 1364 comments I hadn’t been aware of that one, but it sounds worth a punt.


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