Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Christie Malrey's Own Double Entry by B.S. Johnson

B.S. Johnson
Christie Malrey's Own Double Entry
Picador, 2001
ISBN 0 330 48482 6

"A most gifted writer" Samuel Beckett.
I have just fininshed Christie Malry's own Double Entry by B.S. Johnson. I know the title sounds rude but it's not what you think, if indeed you even think that, i don't know, i'm not here to accuse anyone of having a dirty mind. Anyway the "double entry" refers to the standard accounting system devised by Florentine merchants and first recorded in book form by the Benedictine Monk, Fra Luca Bartolomeo. This system is pretty basic, just a ledger system really; debits on one side, credits on the other. Christie Malrey applies this system to his life. The ledger must balance so when Christie's superviser at work calls him by the wrong name he decides to score a scratch along the side of the bank building he works in. As we progress through the novel the credits become more brazen, cynanide poiosoning, bomb threats, and general mayham is created by Christie in his attempts at balancing the books.

"Christie himself wondered: am i not overdrawn? What wrong has society done me that i can offset more that twenty thousand deaths against it? Everything,
he decided after a pause, everything."

Christie Malry's own Double Entry is a novel that self references to the extreme. B.S. Johnson is continually letting the reader know that he is creating the novel, and that it is just a novel, an invention, and that he will take it where he wants, not where you want it to go. It just so happens that i'm pretty pleased with how, and where he takes it; i like the way this novel is produced. The reader is given a hint about the novel with the book cover. It is the title of the novel but the letters are on the keys of an old typewriter. Cristie's life is spead on the keys. On other keys there is: a skull and crossbone, a beaker of liquid, a letter, a phone symbol; a really clever cover for a clever funny book. Oh, and if you are after the correct way to make the perfect Molotov Cocktail, this book provides the recipe. Politically and literary, Christie Malry's own Double Entry is a subversive and revolutionary book.

First published in 1973.


Post a Comment

<< Home