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by Cibator
Tue 14 Jun, 2016 10:20:07
Forum: Bill For The Use Of A Body
Topic: Bill for the use of a body
Replies: 9
Views: 17049

Hi folks

Quite some time ago, I said I was going to produce some comments on the above book. It hasn’t happened so far because I was waiting till I’d seen what there was about it in The Devil Is A Gentleman. Since I still (!) haven’t read TDIAG, I’ll just have to go ahead regardless, now that Steve P has done his own piece. If my ideas prove to be well wide of the mark, then so be it.

The remarks that follow are in no particular order of significance. They’ve been set down as they’ve occurred to me. Page numbers refer to the Heron edition.

By DW’s standards, it’s a pretty short novel at only 214 pages and, by my estimate, well short of 80,000 words, making it about half his usual length. It was published in 1964, the same year as They Used Dark Forces. It’s pretty obvious that most of DW’s energies at the time were being absorbed by this Gregory Sallust epic.

My own theory is that DW was more or less obliged to produce BFTUOAB to offset the cost of his Far-East trip - he could claim some of the latter back off his tax bill, on the grounds of “expenses involved in carrying out researchâ€￾ or some such. But his heart clearly wasn’t in it, and the result was a pretty ordinary (to me, anyway) piece of derring-do with few twists and turns. Very much what publishers and critics term a “pot-boilerâ€￾.

DW clearly doesn’t like several aspects of Japan, the Japanese and their culture, although he does try to balance the ledger a bit here and there, e.g. with his/Julian’s musings on the differences between the eastern and western mentalities (pp155-56), and the little intermezzo with the Rimbauds (pp170-72).

If first-person narration had been used, the only point of view would have been Julian Day’s, so we could have learned nothing of Mr Hayashi’s plottings and motivations until the wash-up afterwards. Unless, that is, there was some kind of framing device, wherein JD’s narrative was interspersed with comments or conversation from an interlocutor. Otherwise the use of third-person and an “omniscient narratorâ€￾ was the only possibility. (I've also begun to wonder if the book was originally meant to include Julian Day at all, being instead an "out-of-series" one-off about one woman's vendetta against her former Japanese tormentors ... )

A matter of style: has anyone else noticed DW’s curious occasional habit of using Capital Letters for certain words and phrases? On p3 Mr Hayashi is noted as having been tried as a “War Criminalâ€￾ (sic), and Hong Kong is referred to throughout as “the Colonyâ€￾. Examples abound in DW’s other works – I remember a reference to major “Sea Lanesâ€￾ in The Man Who Missed The War, and there are doubtless many others that the rest of you can cite.

I wonder how many of DW’s remarks about shanty-towns on the outskirts of major Japanese cities are still true? Surely at the time of his trip there (1962/63), Tokyo at least would haver been undergoing a big facelift in preparation for the 1964 Olympics?

As offspring of an Asian father and a blonde occidental, could Merri Sang have inherited grey eyes at all? Over to to you, geneticists!

Even at the time DW would have been polishing up his final draft, the Twist (p60) was as dead as mutton (in the US and UK, anyhow). This attempt at making his characters seem “with itâ€￾ is thus rather ludicrous. But I suppose dance fashions took a bit longer to penetrate to the Orient in those days.

On p166, the tiresome and over-jocular tour-guide is recycled from the Quest.

Julian’s appearance at the Nest of the Phoenix, fresh from his scrap with Hayashi’s minions, would surely have been met with far more curiosity, if not outright hostility from the management, than is described here. Would he have been admitted at all – still wearing his socks over his shoes, for one thing! - let alone allowed to reach a private room some way from the entrance (even if he had been invited to the party)? I don’t find this very convincing.

Also unconvincing to me is the demise of Azrael Mazinsky, the Polish Jew member of the “Unholy Sevenâ€￾. Surely a shrewdhead like he was supposed to have been would have seen the writing on the wall (literally, if it contained the word “Judenâ€￾) and got himself and plenty of loot out of Poland long before any trouble could strike him?

The reason for the “Julian Day projectâ€￾ not being carried through to completion is surely the intervention of WW2, which changed for ever the whole political and social structure of the world. As hinted in BFTUOAB, it soon became far harder to tote a pistol round the globe (or even a sword-stick), and the tabs kept on one by airlines, shipping companies, customs & immigration, etc, meant it was far harder to cover one’s tracks. And the old free-and-easy “understandingsâ€￾ (like the one between Julian and the Cairo police chief Essex Pasha) also rapidly became a thing of the past.

The title! Seen on its own, without reading the book, definitely puzzling. Not so obvious either even after reading it. But I’ve concluded that the body is a live one, not dead; that it was Tilly Sangs’s, and that the “billâ€￾ was the working-out of her vengeance on the ones who abused her so barbarously. And I say: good on her!
by Cibator
Fri 13 Nov, 2015 00:50:12
Forum: General Topics
Topic: Terrific value for money, but ...
Replies: 3
Views: 5809

Darren wrote:And how was the collation, Charles? Was it up to scratch? Does it compare well to The Sword of Fate? :-k
Hope it was as rich and satisfying as the cold one abandoned in Simon's house by Mocata's coven on realising their host had been abducted! (Heron edition, p34) :-D
by Cibator
Fri 13 Nov, 2015 00:42:09
Forum: General Topics
Topic: An improving book!
Replies: 10
Views: 9094

There seem to several ideas as to the origins of that phrase. One I've not seen mentioned is that a dog's testicles are often quite prominent (or "outstanding", in one of the less common senses of that word). Possible confirmation of this comes from an interview with cartoonist Bill Tidy I remember ...
by Cibator
Tue 29 Sep, 2015 22:07:39
Forum: Faked Passports
Topic: Faked passports
Replies: 15
Views: 25246

This reader decided a long time ago, on grounds similar to those of M. Pascal, to back DW's own preferred horses of karma and reincarnation. I"ve conducted myself with those considerations in mind ever since. But one nagging question I've never been able to shake off. Why, at this particular point i...
by Cibator
Tue 29 Sep, 2015 21:53:53
Forum: Off-Topic
Topic: Frederick Frosyth and the Occult
Replies: 2
Views: 3566

Frederick Frosyth and the Occult

An unlikely bracketing, as I'm sure most of you would agree who have read Mr Forsyth's novels, set as they are in a very material world indeed. But on pages 112-13 of his recently published memoir The Outsider , he recounts an episode that has curious parallels to DW's encounter with the clairvoyant...
by Cibator
Mon 17 Aug, 2015 12:09:37
Forum: General Topics
Topic: DW in the Summer edition of The Oldie
Replies: 3
Views: 6044

That edition of The Oldie has just made it to NZ, so I bought the issue (as I sometimes do). Good to see DW getting a mention again nowadays, although, as Darren says, there's nothing really new there. And Mr Barber's actually been a bit slipshod with some of his statements. Though it's true DW had ...
by Cibator
Wed 13 May, 2015 10:15:49
Forum: General Topics
Topic: TDRO: Nike Arrighi and her Borghese Connection
Replies: 2
Views: 5275

TDRO: Nike Arrighi and her Borghese Connection

Some of you may already be aware of this, but I wasn't able to find any reference to it on the site. So here we are ... You'll remember the passage in The Devil Rides Out where the Duke tells Rex about the Satanic temple discovered in the Palazzo Borghese in 1895. Well, I've just found out that Nike...
by Cibator
Fri 16 Jan, 2015 19:17:14
Forum: General Topics
Topic: BBC 2 TV 'Mastermind'
Replies: 17
Views: 28055

I take there isn't a similar club in New Zealand. You take it correctly. The show has never been quite such a big deal out here, especially in its final years. Just in case I end up at some point in Wellington Central Library, can you remember which channel Mastermind was shown on, any particular d...
by Cibator
Tue 13 Jan, 2015 10:18:17
Forum: General Topics
Topic: BBC 2 TV 'Mastermind'
Replies: 17
Views: 28055

Darren, I think we're likely to have a bit of trouble here. For one thing, Mastermind hasn't screened in NZ since 1991. All its production staff have long since retired or moved on to other things, and the broadcasting company itself has been reorganised several times, to the point of unrecognisabil...
by Cibator
Sun 11 Jan, 2015 19:31:05
Forum: General Topics
Topic: BBC 2 TV 'Mastermind'
Replies: 17
Views: 28055

I tried to find out about the Gregory Sallust questions on the New Zealand Mastermind but got nowhere. I did find something interesting, though. Cibator - am I right in thinking that Gavin Fuller is not the only Mastermind Champion to have contributed to this library? Well Darren: now that you've d...
by Cibator
Sat 10 Jan, 2015 22:26:50
Forum: General Topics
Topic: BBC 2 TV 'Mastermind'
Replies: 17
Views: 28055

Thanks for the compliment, Darren. Katherine Heaney got 17 out of 18. Q7 was answered incorrectly. Looks though it helps to have Katherine as your name (see post above, re K. Drury). Only one word for either of them - phenomenal ! Gavin Fuller noted the interesting point that there were no questions...
by Cibator
Fri 9 Jan, 2015 08:26:39
Forum: General Topics
Topic: BBC 2 TV 'Mastermind'
Replies: 17
Views: 28055

Managed 9, 10 or 11, depending on how rigorous the adjudicators are being. (E.g., is "London" considered adequate for Q12?). Not so good as I did for the Roger Brook set!
by Cibator
Tue 16 Dec, 2014 20:47:00
Forum: Three Inquisitive People
Topic: Three Inquisitive People - The Beginning
Replies: 8
Views: 24872

I'm fairly sure that Arthur Machen was also part of this very small group. He's well worth reading, btw, and was a major influence upon modern horror writers like Stephen King and Peter Straub. The Great God Pan, The Shining Pyramid and The Hill of Dreams are all very good works of his. Machen was ...
by Cibator
Sun 23 Nov, 2014 21:39:09
Forum: General Topics
Topic: DW in the Australian Press Archives
Replies: 2
Views: 4523

Well done, Darren. Should be some fascinating reading there for anyone with an interest in DW.

I had a quick look myself, and found a review of Star Of Ill-Omen. A fine example of damning with faint praise!
by Cibator
Fri 21 Nov, 2014 21:03:33
Forum: General Topics
Topic: The Secret of Flat 35
Replies: 2
Views: 4371

Omigosh - that number 35 again!! The occult number shared by the Duke and Simon Aaron (as demonstrated in TDRO), and the age at which DW started his writing career ... Plus of course the digits add to 8, and we all know the significance of that.

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