978-1-59017-256-8 / 9781590172568

Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky: A London Trilogy (New York Review Books Classics)


Publisher:NYRB Classics



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About the book:

Patrick Hamilton was just twenty-four years old when The Midnight Bell was first published in 1929, but his writing told a different story. The narrative he told was, give or take, his own and was of a young man (Euston Road barman Bob) impossibly in love with one of London's "lovely ladies" (Jenny), an infatuation which tore him apart emotionally, and led him steadily from pub to pub to dosshouse. While Hamilton the man managed to extricate himself from his affair and get married, over the next few years Hamilton the writer returned compulsively to the same materials, manipulating unresolved subplots and highlighting minor characters to produce The Siege of Pleasure in 1932 and The Plains of Cement in 1934. Together the three novels form a many-layered and remarkable trilogy, now happily available again in paperback. They conjure brilliantly twenties Britain, emotionally paralysed by class fears and genteel snobbery, but by now completely unable to regain the social certainties of the past. Hamilton captured the psychological complexity of his career losers with a theatricality which would later find full expression in his stage plays (later filmed), Rope and Gaslight. Many writers since have probed into the capital's lowlife, but probably nobody will ever capture so well the twilight tyranny of the London pub, and its denizens' unspeakable desperation. --Alan Stewart

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