Monday, January 30, 2017
THE SCARPERER - Brendan Behan
"He's a mysterious figure whose influence enables Limey and a group of toughs to break out out of Mountjoy Penitentiary in Dublin...
But there's no joy for Limey: the Scarperer has planned to fix him up with a French identity - clothing, papers, even a tattoo- and then to murder him."
This is a short crime novel originally published in serial form in the Irish Times under the pseudonym of Emmet Street, which was a street name near where Behan was lodging.
"By 1953, I was quite well known as a poet and writer, and unfortunately the Dublin intelligentsia had seen pieces of pornography that I'd written for French magazines when I was in France- in English, of course. This didn't exactly endear me to them, so being short of the readies, I decided to write under a phoney name" - from the Foreword to the 1966 edition by Rae Jeffs.
This is a excellent crime;as with all Behan you get the fantastic ear for conversation, the humour and the violence that can be conveyed by language.
I never knew this book existed until a recent troll through a second hand store in Dunedin brought it to light along with another of his books which I knew existed but is hard to find. It was one of those trolls that was exceptional.
Behan was larger than life, massively talented who unfortunately drank himself to death by the age of 41, an age where he had should have been hitting his straps. Read anything you can find of his.