No such City

No Such City

I picked up a fab pulp novel in the charity shop at the weekend: Shabby Tiger by Howard Spring. It has a nakkid girl on the cover. It also has the tagline “Exuberant, outspoken, Rabelaisian” and how often do you see a novel called Rabelaisian these days, eh?

But the real joys lie within. The opening line is

The woman flamed along the road like a macaw.

Do macaws often flame along roads, then?

Then I spotted the disclaimer (see photo). There is no such city as Manchester.

And even the author is fictitious. Has this fallen through a wormhole from the Nineteen Eighty Four universe, in which fiction is mass-produced on the novel-writing machines?

She could describe the whole process of composing a novel, from the general directive issued by the Planning Committee down to the final touching-up by the Rewrite Squad.

She had even …been picked out to work in Pornosec, the sub-section of the Fiction Department which turned out cheap pornography for distribution among the proles. … There she had remained for a year, helping to produce booklets in sealed packets with titles like Spanking Stories or One Night in a Girls’ School, to be bought furtively by proletarian youths who were under the impression that they were buying something illegal.
Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell

Certainly it has the rough printing on the cover, with rosettes of basic colours barely blurred together: the sort that always makes me think of the magic colouring books I had a child where one swish a a wet paintbrush revealed the colours.

Yet our fictional author has three volumes in his autobiography, according to the ‘also by’ listing.

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