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Nigeyb

Nigeyb

Fowlers End - Gerald Kersh,  Michael Moorcock (Introduction) Fowlers End is in London's outer suburbia and is quite possibly one of the most hellish places imaginable (geographically in the Edmonton/Ponders End area): a steel tube factory, a glass factory, the smokiest railway terminal in London, and a hideous chemical plant. It is in Fowlers End that Sam Yudenow, the proprietor of the Pantheon cinema, employs Daniel Laverock who, despite a ferocious appearance, is an educated middle class family failure, to manage the place.

The story is told from Daniel Laverock's point of view. That said, there really isn't much of a story and the book is filled with dialogue, particularly from the memorable Sam Yudenow, whose mangled cockney yiddish is peppered with eclectic cliches, aphorisms, sayings etc. that have to be read to be believed. The extent to which you might enjoy this book will depend upon your tolerance for pages of this stuff. I thought it was amusing and readable.

There are numerous other colourful and distinctive characters that populate the tale: Copper Baldwin (another Cinema employee), Godbolt (Yudenow’s business rival and nemesis), June Whistler (Laverock’s girlfriend), the Greek brother and sister, Costas and Kyra, who run Yudenow’s cafe, and many more. All of them are idiosyncratic, well drawn, and funny.

This is the second book I have read by Gerald Kersh (the first was "The Angel and The Cuckoo") and I enjoyed both. Both books extensively feature London and, in both, Kersh evokes a version of the city that I recognise. A London of ordinary people trying to survive in a harsh environment.

Set in the 1930s, and published in 1958, I'd say if you like books about London, particularly those set in the interwar period about ordinary working people, then this is well worth a read.