"[A]n exuberant romp with a parcel of grotesques in a truly horrible nor'-nor'-easterly suburb of London . . . great fun." - Manchester Guardian
"Rabelaisian, vigorous, readable, inventive and bizarre." - Simon Raven
"The very best of his works." - Harlan Ellison
In the worst, poorest, most benighted corner of London is Fowlers End, one of the most godforsaken spots on the face of the earth. It is here that young Daniel Laverock, starving and nearly penniless at the height of the Great Depression, takes the only job he can find: manager of the Pantheon Theater, a rundown old silent cinema owned by Sam Yudenow. Yudenow, an incorrigible swindler and one of the great comic grotesques in English literature, at first seems merely an amusing old fool, but Laverock soon discovers he is actually a despicable rogue. And when one of Yudenow's schemes finally goes too far, Laverock and his co-worker Copper Baldwin decide to teach him a lesson with a grand scheme of their own, with hilarious and unpredictable results.
First published in 1957, Fowlers End is thought by many to be the masterpiece of Gerald Kersh (1911-1968). A comic romp with echoes of Dickens, Rabelais, and The Beggar's Opera, Kersh's novel remains one of the funniest English novels of the 20th century and one of the best works of fiction ever written about London. This edition features an introduction by award-winning novelist and longtime Kersh admirer Michael Moorcock.
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About the Author
Kersh fought in the Second World War as a member of the Coldstream Guards before being discharged in 1943 after having both his legs broken in a bombing raid. He traveled widely before moving to the United States and becoming an American citizen, because “the Welfare State and confiscatory taxation make it impossible to work over there, if you’re a writer.”
Kersh was a larger than life figure, a big, heavy-set man with piercing black eyes and a fierce black beard, which led him to describe himself proudly as “villainous-looking.” His obituary recounts some of his eccentricities, such as tearing telephone books in two, uncapping beer bottles with his fingernails, bending dimes with his teeth, and ordering strange meals, like “anchovies and figs doused in brandy” for breakfast. Kersh lived the last several years of his life in the mountain community of Cragsmoor, in New York, and died at age 57 in 1968 of cancer of the throat.