Paul Di Filippo (pgdf) wrote in theinferior4,
Paul Di Filippo

Sixties Novels, Part 6

THE FLY, Richard Chopping, FS&G, 1965.

Here's what an anonymous reviewer at TIME magazine had to say about this novel, in their issue of Friday, May 07, 1965:

THE FLY by Richard Chopping. 291 pages. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. $4.95. On the jacket of this book squats a huge hairy fly—no doubt attracted by the offal inside. There is Mrs. Macklin, a black widow in sweaty corsets, who works days as caretaker of a dreary British office and prowls the night looking for someone to take care of her; Mr. Gender, an amorous Prufrock with boils; Miss Jeacock, a withered office virgin who lures a young clerk to the ladies' room and ecstatically dies of a surfeit. The clerk flees the jakes in horror but is blackmailed by Mrs. Macklin, who wants him for herself. But he cannot face the supreme sacrifice she demands and winds up in a catatonic state in her broom closet. By profession, Author Chopping is a commercial artist—he designed the dust jackets for Ian Fleming's James Bond books. His eye is microscopically keen. Unhappily, it is riveted on the Excremental Vision.

I don't know about you, but this review has the opposite of its intended effect, making me want to dive into the book immediately!

Plainly, Chopping's novel is in a long Gothic line, with 20th-century influences such as Flannery O'Connor, William Faulkner and Shirley Jackson. The mode is always with us, including today, in such authors as early Ian McEwan, Patrick McGrath and Edward Carey (OBSERVATORY MANSIONS).

Interestingly, Chopping was one of those polymaths like Peake, who was also a visual artist:

"Richard Chopping was born in 1917 in Colchester Essex and first exhibited his work in 1939. He went on to provide illustrations for numerous books and periodicals. He is best known for James Bond dust jackets though, each one a masterly piece of work. They remain some of the most evocative and effective wrapper designs ever created for the genre. Much of the work was done in collaboration with the author and there was some tension and disagreement at times, not least in regard of copyright and remuneration. He spent his later years concentrating on teaching and did few other jackets, the last one he did do was LICENCE RENEWED, John Gardner's first 007 novel."

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