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||La Squab: The Black Rose of Auschwitz
246mm x 174mm
ISBN 978 0 86130 125 6
La Squab by David Britton represents a departure from the author’s reputation as the creator of Lord Horror, the last novel to be banned in Britain.
Masquerading as a book for children, the primary inspirations of La Squab are The Wind in the Willows—if Grahame’s classic had been re-written by Adolf Hitler!—and the ‘Fudge & Speck’ comic strip created by celebrated Beano cartoonist Ken Reid.
At once loony and dangerous, La Squab relates a picaresque river journey down a Thames whose metaphysical qualities exist only in Mr Britton’s imagination. Along the way, favourite children’s characters such as Tiger Tim, Angel Face and Weary Willie & Tired Tim are encountered, together with real-life historical figures Alfred Jarry, Sigmund Freud, Leni Riefenstahl, and Lord Horror’s treacherous doppelgänger, Lord Haw-Haw.
The final destination is a submerged Auschwitz conjured afresh beneath the mighty Thames. There La Squab’s playful romp through literature and topsy-turvy morals reveals that all is not always well in the end!
Illustrated in colour and black-and-white by Kris Guidio.
Includes a reading on CD by Fenella Fielding.
Cover design by John Coulthart.
Brilliant. Brilliant. Fucking incredible.
"A new bright solid striped mass of flesh clearly showed that the Creole was warping into a spectacular zoomorph. His strawberry cheesecake tiger of flesh was bubbling. Underneath this surface, bone and gristle rubbed up and down in a sickening elevator jive."
What is this? What am I reading? This isn't a novel; it's a summoning. No one else writes this way. Your imitators always get this part wrong: They describe the weirdness, but they don't bring it to life in microscopic detail or they use the wrong images to solidify the unimaginable. Also, of course, the depths of weirdness you go to are unprecedented. You are unique among authors. Correct me if I'm wrong. If there are others who write this way, please be forthcoming with their names. I'm familiar now with many of your influences, but you seem to have come to a very different conclusion as a writer.
So many potent scenes stand out in my mind...the albino pygmy with green bottle eyes...Hitler black as volcanic glass and tall as a skyscraper aboard the Auschwitz Six—The Mausoleum of Neptune...Schlomo Freud as a serpentine krematorium…
The Princess of Tough Love is my favorite chapter along with Into Menger Woods. In the latter, your description of Tiger Tim was transformative, spectacular. But even better than that is the way you captured the soul of Fudge and Speck. In a scene that is filthy with blood and guts, you somehow preserve the sweetness and innocence of the elves.
"You have demised my friend, eaten him, and for no good reason I can see."
You got the voice perfectly right. That is love. That is respect.
Mr. Guidio has breathed new life into the mermaid. I've never seen them with scales like a dragon's armored hide or with tails like shags of seaweed, nor would it have occurred to me that you could take one from behind the way Horror is doing in the illustration on page 130. The illustration on page 259 of hungry eels and long knives and treacherous pigmies is equally magnificent. There are too many other wonderful illustrations to list them all. I think his art is better than it has ever been. And he still draws great tits!
There is a blend of childlike wonder and full grown evil in these pages that I have not encountered before. It seems almost as if a new genre is being born. What you accomplished here is what I was naively expecting to find in Clive Barker's Abarat book before it was released by one of the world's largest publishing companies...I have no reason to suspect Mr. Barker did not write exactly the book he wanted to, but even so HarperCollins would never have allowed a Black Rose of Auschwitz to grow in their garden. For that there must be a Savoy.
I would say that ninety percent of the references in La Squab were a complete mystery to me. However, it puts me in the unique position to assure you that if La Squab were only a clever series of references to other books than it would be no more valuable as literature than an encyclopedia, and that is not the case at all. To me it was as ineffable and insane as the King James Bible and twice as beautifully written. It is a collection of imagery so wondrous that my aging imagination felt thirty years younger. Most of all it was terrific fun. I don't know if you consider "fun" a compliment, but to read a book with language this complex, symbolism this occult, philosophy this black, and violence this dark—and to have a blast while doing it? Well, sir, I call that high praise indeed.
ABEL DIAZ, author 'Battles Without Honour or Humanity'
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