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WILLIAM HUGHES
from the screenplay by Donald Cammell
Performance


click to enlarge

Tandem, London, 1970
(price: 5/- 25p; 158 pages)

dedication: to D, H and S


The blurb inside:

The guy was a square, an uncool man, a liar. He was in some sort of trouble, Pherber guessed, but what? She closed the bedroom door carefully behind her.
'Turner, please wake up. I don't know what to do. There's this weird cat downstairs wants Malc's room. He gave me all this money. Look. Ninety-five pounds he gave me. What are we going to do?'
Turner's strong hand shot out and grabbed her ankle and jerked her down alongside him.
'Turner, stop it. You must listen. He's positively chucking bread at me down there... darling...' She shivered with pleasure as his long delicate fingers travelled up her leg. Then she relaxed, the stranger forgotten, as her hands reached out to his body and she was lost in a mist of pleasure.
On the far side of he bed someone stirred. A girl poked her head out of the covers. Young, not much more than seventeen, dark as Pherber was fair. She smiled when she saw the cause of the disturbance. Turner and Pherber. There was nothing unusual. She turned over and went back to sleep.


opening lines:
The sun beat down from a rare burnished sky as Harley-Brown walked with a measured stride from the verandah of the club house towards the inviting. Cool interior of his Rolls Royce. It was midweek and the Sunningdale car park was quiet.


One of the hippest films ever made, and surely the hippest novelization ever, this is great stuff. If you didn't know it was a movie, you'd still rate this as a great piece of 1960s underworld and pop fiction. Since you do, you can appreciate the description of Mick Jagger as Turner:

He was tall, gangling, thin, with a thin face, pale and beautiful like a girl's. Dark eyes and dark hair, the former seeming to pierce whatever they looked at and discover the secret of it. (p.82)

The story you'll all be familiar with: London gangster seeking refuge ends up in the home of a rock singer, but that says nothing really - the point is the atmosphere and the style. And like the film, the book captures something of the decadent fag-end of the 1960s, the descent into violence and madness. I could be wrong, since I haven't made a detailed comparison, but I think this might have been written from an earlier version of the screenplay.

As far as I know, it's never been reissued, which is a bizarre thing indeed.


US edition: an on-beat novel
click to enlarge
courtesy of Wes

ARTISTIC MERIT: 3/5
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE:
3/5
HIPNESS QUOTIENT:
5/5


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