British author Gerald Kersh was born in 1911 and grew up wanting to be a writer. He began working in earnest at the age of eight. While honing his craft, he worked at a variety of jobs including body guard, debt collector, wrestling, and fish-and-chips cook. His first novel was published in 1934, JEWS WITHOUT JEHOVAH, but was too autobographical and he was sued by family members. the book was withdrawn. He had more success with NIGHT AND THE CITY in 1938. The copy hown here, mine, is the fourth printing of a 1946 edition.
A most interesting novel highlighting the underbelly of London. Set in the months before George VI’s coronation(1936), we see a different sort of life> The characters here are what would be considered lower class, in the mores of the time and their actions. But some were just hard working folks trying to survive the best way they could.
Harry Fabian is the unquestioned star of the book, a little man with delusions of grandeur that had the intelligence and drive to make something of himself. If he’d worked as hard at honesty as he did trying to make the big score, he likely would have succeeded.
But his aim to be a big fish in the pond is fueled by the American films he devoured, the tough guys in the films that thumbed their noses at the straight world. he never seemed to get that they all fell in the end.
He’s a pretty loathsome character that sells his girl friend to men and keeps most of the money, all the while pretending he’s a big shot, drinking and gambling most of it away.
His current aim is to be a wrestling promoter, seeing the big dollars he thinks will come his way, all the while hustling around for start-up money, then flashes it all away being the big man he claims.
Others get caught up in his schemes as well, though some try to pull away. There’s Helen the secretary that wants more out of life. Her bou friend Adam wants to be a sculptor. Zoe is the woman keeping him up and doesn’t know he has his eyes on another woman and plans to sell her to white slavers.
London is cleaning up the town for the Coronation ceremonies and that proves the end for all concerned.
Liked this novel by the British author. It was filmed twice. In 1950, Richard Widmark played Harry Fabian and in 1992, Robert De Niro got the role(the locale was switched to L.A.).
For more forgotten books, check out PATTINASE on Fridays.