James Hawes is the author of the best-selling A White Merc with Fins, Rancid Aluminium and Dead Long Enough, and was described by the Observer as 'the funniest British novelist writing today'.
This fantastic comic novel centres on a contestant in the ultimate reality TV show who, abandoned in the jungle, happens upon a lost world based on the values of 1950s Britain. Donâ€™t miss it!
A completely fresh look at the culture clash between Britain and Germany that all but destroyed Europe. Half a century before 1914, most Britons saw the Germans as poor and rather comical cousins - and most Germans looked up to the British as their natural mentors. Over the next five decades, each came to think that the other simply had to be confronted - in Europe, in Africa, in the Pacific and at last in the deadly race to cover the North Sea with dreadnoughts. But why? Why did so many Britons come to see in Germany everything that was fearful and abhorrent? Why did so many Germans come to see any German who called dobbel fohltwhile playing Das Lawn Tennisas the dupe of a global conspiracy? Packed with long-forgotten stories such as the murder of Queen Victoria's cook in Bohn, the disaster to Germany's ironclads under the White Cliffs, bizarre early colonial clashes and the precise, dark moment when Anglophobia begat modern anti-Semitism, this is the fifty-year saga of the tragic, and often tragicomic, delusions and miscalculations that led to the defining cataclysm of our times - the breaking of empires and the womb of horrors, the Great War. Richly illustrated with the words and pictures that formed our ancestors' disastrous opinions, it will forever change the telling of this fateful tale.
Kafka's features, and that dreaded word, Kafkaesque, are known to millions who have never read serious literature. Generations of academics and critics have maintained the image of Franz Kafka as a tortured seer whose works defy interpretation. In Excavating Kafka James Hawes reveals the truth that lies beneath the image of a middle-European Nostradamus with a typographically irresistible name. The real Franz Kafka was no angst-ridden paranoid but a well-groomed young man-about-town who frequented brothels, had regular sex with a penniless-but-pretty girl and subscribed to upmarket pornography (published by the very man who published Kafka's first stories). Excavating Kafka debunks a number of key facets of the Kafka-Myth, including the idea that Kafka was the archetypal genius neglected in his lifetime; that he was stuck in a dead-end job and struggling to find time to write; that he was tormented by fear of sex; that he had a uniquely terrible, domineering father who had no understanding of his son's needs; that his literature is mysterious and opaque; that he constructs fantasy-worlds in which innocent everymen live in fear of mysterious and totalitarian powers-that-be. Written with the panache of a supremely gifted comic writer, Excavating Kafka is an engaging and involving reassessment of a major figure of literary modernism that will be welcomed and enjoyed by students of Kafka and by general readers alike.
John Goode is a leftie lecturer who just wants to give his beloved wife and kids a normal life. You know: north London, good schools, nice neighbours, sash windows... yes, you know. But who can afford that kind of normal these days? Goode can only daydream of becoming a television academic, or else of a bloody great economic crash that would make his job worth something again. So when he stumbles on a long-buried assault rifle whilst planting plum-trees for his children, he soon begins to wonder if this might be just the tool to seriously renegociate his family's future...
Everybody knows the face of Franz Kafka, whether they have read any of his works or not. And that brooding face carries instant images: bleak and threatening visions of an inescapable bureaucracy, nightmarish transformations, uncanny predictions of the Holocaust. But while Kafka's genius is beyond question, the image of a mysterious, sickly, shadowy figure who was scarcely known in his own lifetime bears no resemblance to the historical reality. Franz Kafka was a popular and well-connected millionaire's son who enjoyed good-time girls, brothels, and expensive porn, who landed a highly desirable state job that pulled in at least $90,000 a year in today's dollars for a six-hour day, who remained a loyal member of Prague's German-speaking Imperial elite right to the end, and whose work was backed by a powerful literary clique.Here are some of the prevalent Kafka myths:*Kafka was the archetypal genius neglected in his lifetime.*Kafka was lonely.*Kafka was stuck in a dead-end job, struggling to find time to write. *Kafka was tormented by fear of sex.*Kafka was unbendingly honest about himself to the women in his life - too honest.*Kafka had a terrible, domineering father who had no understanding of his son's needs.*Kafka's style is mysterious and opaque.*Kafka takes us into bizarre worlds. James Hawes wants to tear down the critical walls which generations of gatekeepers---scholars, biographers, and tourist guides---have built up around Franz Kafka, giving us back the real man and the real significance of his splendid works. And he'll take no prisoners in the process.
Brian Marley, a divorced Englishman, is alone in the vilest jungle on earth, about to die live on television. A contestant on Brit Pluck, Green Hell, Two Million, the ultimate reality TV show, Marley has managed to outlive his rivals and win enough money to change his life. Except that the TV crew has just been wiped out in a helicopter crash. With the crocodiles closing in, he has no option but to climb the vast cliff at his back. Inevitably, he falls... ...And awakes in a lost world that is remarkably like an Englishman's heaven. There's cricket and rugger, the Union Jack, plucky boys, pretty girls, a tough but fair headmaster - an entire miniature civilization preserved by the surviving passengers from Comet IV, which vanished in 1958. Firmly convinced that they were the first casualties of World War III, they have kept an idyllic, pre-sixties England alive. When Brian contacts the outside world, the Headmaster is outraged to find an embattled New Labour MP unchallenged by a hapless Tory Party. With 50s conviction, he sets about restoring the values of the Eagle to England.
In Soho Paul Salmon, co-producer of the ghastly Britpack Russian Mafia caper Base Metal, is busy chasing his next project and not taking cocaine. In Pontypool, Dr Jane Feverfew is busy wooing her ludicrous students and fighting her leek-carrying ex. In Cardiff, the Welsh cultural mafia are busy planning the disposal of next year's subsidies. Jane can hardly remember what sex is like. Her only excitement in life is a coy e-flirtation @ ResistYoof.co.uk. But the net was made for liars, and the coke-fuelled Salmon mistakes Jane for a writer who might save his bacon - and warm up his bed - and Jane dives happily into the white powder desert of actors, agents and W1 clubs. As the Day of Reckoning arrives for her film and for Soho, Jane comes to her senses too late - or at least too late for salvation to come from any but the most unlikely of quarters-
Harry MacDonald had seen plenty of skulls - arsing about with some poor sod or other's skull is what pays Harry's rent - but until the day of his official thirty-ninth birthday (actually, Harry was knocking on forty), which was also the day he met Shnade again, he had never noticed the shape of his own skull-to-be; and until the night of that same day, he had never seen a living skull being crunched deliberately, wetly inwards. Perhaps it all happened because Harry had got lost in his work for too long. Or perhaps because Shnade had got lost doing nothing for too long. Or perhaps because all of us, Harry and Shnade included, are lost full stop. She's not really Shnade, of course. Shnade was what we heard, and is what we called her, and is what she will be, to me any rate, for as long as I have. When Shnade swung round, I saw her dress flick along with the movement of her hips and brush Harry's thigh. It was a light, small, flimsy dress of reddish cotton; she wore it over some kind of black, shiny, strappy, swimsuitish thing. You could see this big tattoo of a lizard that ran right from her shoulder to her wrist. And you could tell that when her dress swished across the thigh of Harry's jeans, it felt to him like it was made of chain-mail. And I think, looking back, we all knew, right then, that Harry was fucked.
YOU'RE STUCK ON THE M25, STRESSED OUT ABOUT YOUR TAX RETURNS, YOUR MARRIAGE, YOUR SPERM-COUNT AND CHARMAIINE, WHEN YOUR MOBILE RINGS AND YOU FIND OUT YOU ARE STUFFED, BANKRUPT, FINISHED. THE BIG REF HAS JUST SHOWN YOU THE RED CARD. Unless, that is, the mysterious Mr Kant delivers. But what does he want in return? And what does his beautiful secretary want for dragging you into her bedroom? Come to think of it, what does your Irish accountant want out of it - and your neighbour Gerry, the American lawyer, with his guns and his secret life?
Take four ne'er-do-wells: a 28-year-old ex-public schoolboy who can't bear the idea of setting down; Suzy the Black Widow, who has a deliciously flat stomach and drives like she's breathing through the carbs; Brady the Reservoir Dogs fetishist; and Chico the fat Portuguese waiter. Add some plastic guns, the IRA and a white Merc with fins and you have a plan. What plan? The plan to walk into Michael Winner's private bank and walk out with half a million quid. Fast, clever, stylish, funny and utterly compulsive, this is a first novel with everything.