Working, swimming and gardening a lot lately. And thinking about violence. Just finished my review of Patrick Hamilton’s Hangover Square, a reissued novel (Europa edition) that takes place in London on the eve of World War II. Hamilton, who may be best known for his play “Gaslight,” that was turned into a movie, is considered by some as an undervalued writer. I found his work forceful even as I wasn’t sure what to make of it. It lingered long and with events of the past week allowed me to think about how riveting and immobilizing violence and cruelty can be.
I also finished Jean-Claude Izzo’s Total Chaos, another in the Europa Noir series, another that intersected with my thoughts about the unraveling violence of the week. Total Chaos is the first of the Marseilles trilogy and features Fabio Montale, a cop whose childhood friends have become part of the violent underworld in this city of immigrants. Marseilles, vibrant seaport of gustatory pleasures and beautiful women, may be a French melting pot for those who come to seek better lives – Italians, Neopolitans, Spainards, West Indians, North Africans and Arabs, but it’s a pot that simmers, always on the verge of boiling over. While Fabio turns against violence, one friend Ugo, flees it – only to be dragged back, while the angriest of the three Manu is so enmeshed in it, he cannot escape. I plan to write a full review later, after some reflection.
I have just begun the second in the Izzo’s series, Chourmo, and am still listening to David McCullough’s John Adams.