Wednesday, December 21, 2011

DBB meets Charlie Williams, or how to quit smoking

(One book, two titles)
A fag is a cigarette in England, and cigarettes are a big part of Royston Blake's life. Blake is a nightclub doorman and the center of Charlie Williams' series set in the unidyllic small English town of Mangel.

But, as Williams' 2005 novel Fags and Lager (rereleased this year as Booze and Burn) opens, Blake is thinking of kicking the habit:

"I tapped me finger on the table for a bit, wondering whether to have a smoke or no. I’d been thinking about giving up of late. Fags just wasn’t same as they used to be. The baccy was all dry and manky and the filters seemed to hold onto half the goodness no matter how hard you sucked on em. Aye, I were wondering if it weren’t time to pack em in and move up to cigars full-time."
That's good stuff, but what hooked me was the first chapter's heading, a mock newspaper story in deadpan journalese that veers off into paranoid speculation humorous to the reader but presumably not to the person doing the speculating.

I've just started the book, but this looks like a good week for crime writers named Charlie.

© Peter Rozovsky 2011

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9 Comments:

Blogger adrian mckinty said...

In Australia the taxes on cigarettes are so high that some people I know of grow - illegally - their own tobacco plants in their back yard.

I'm not advocating cigarettes but things have come to a pretty pass when you have to do that.

December 22, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Discouraging the sort of self-reliance we may need in the coming lean years, are they? Why is it illegal to grow tobacco? Infringing on a source of government revenue, I suppose.

Back when the rage for smoking bans was picking up steam, I used to say that the self-righteousness of some anti-smokers made me want to start smoking.

December 22, 2011  
Anonymous A.McQuay said...

It is a good thing to preserve your health.
What is wrong with living longer
and being healthy?
One way to do it is to quit smoking.

December 22, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

There's nothing wrong with quitting smoking. The only reason I haven't quit is that I never started.

My comment referrred not to the idea of quitting but rather to rude self-righteous types who would, say, loudly insist that smokers put out their cigarettes even in places where smoking was permitted.

December 22, 2011  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter,

After Christopher Hitchens' death I didnt really mind the petty, gloating obituaries from the likes of Alexander Cockburn; that sort of thing was to be expected; but the Puritan streak it brought out in many obit writers was astounding. Smoking and, gasp, drinking Scotch seemed to be on a par with genocide in some of their minds. A lot has to be said for 1900 when you could go down to your local drugstore and buy cocaine, heroin, marijuana and cigarettes with the

December 22, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Oh, cripes, I didn't see that sort of thing in the few pieces I read. I did see a quotation attributed to him about what he thought the three most overrated things in the world: Champagne, anal sex, and I forget the third. Lobster, maybe.

December 22, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Hell, even in The Big Sleep, Philip Marlowe will pop into a drugstore for a bottle of rye.

December 22, 2011  
Blogger May said...

Do you mean when it was re-released in the US, the title was changed?

I do like both titles very much. And, actually, I think I like the "translation" even more than the original.

January 16, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I don't know the history of the title change or the reason for it. I could imagine that U.S. publishers might hesitate to release a book with fags in the title. The word has a sharply different meaning in the U.S.!

January 16, 2012  

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