Filthy English by Jonathan Meades
These short stories mark the start of a brilliant and black literary career.
A dog who stars in bestial pornographic movies describes the slippery slope towards aniseed addiction in 'Fur and Skin'. 'The Sylvan Life' is a story of rustling, hallucinogenic mushrooms and incest as they proliferate in the New Forest. In 'Spring and Fall' a rich and childless woman offers a sybaritic young boy a clandestine family life which becomes his downfall. The most extraordinary circumstances combine to provide the perfect alibi for a homosexual 'crime passionnel' in 'Oh So Bent', 'The Brute's Price' demonstrates the inadvertent steps an innocent man may take in bringing himself under suspicion of heinous murders on Portland. An injection of the criminal element into the pretensions of suburban Surrey provides the squalid drama of 'Rhododendron Gulch'. In the title story a relentlessly pedantic urge of a lexicographer to discover why his surname is a slang word for 'foot' leads him to a nightmarish revelation.
Jonathan Meades has a black imagination. Not content with disarming his readers an outrageous premise, he continues to tease their curiosity from one end of each story to the other. His is the kind of originality that comes along rarely, his characters the sort who lurk and linger round the back alleys of the mind.