Oh-ho, saviours of the written word! As we are tucked in tighter to the rigid sheets of autumn, harder to shift in the mornings and their embrace distant in the evenings, have faith in the script. We’ve given you some ace reads for when the living is easy, but how’s about the times when the living is wretchedly autumnal? Billy the Echidna provides you with four sacred texts to notch on your bedpost.
- High Rise – J.G Ballard
Billy the Echidna couldn’t be more Ballardian whether he’s fantasising about Ronald Reagan or delighting in the marmoreal veins of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. As a young Echidna, I was enthralled by the putrid, pornographic meld of sex and technology Ballard describes in Crash (the first time Billy remembers having to put down a book because he felt nauseous). First drafted as a social worker’s report, High Rise accounts an English tower block’s descent into mayhem as the tenants scrabble for clarity in its hierarchical, suffocating units. The book follows three residents of the building’s highest, middle and lowest floors as the psychological pressure of high-rise living crushes all reason within its corridors. Fans of Will Self and Michel Houellebecq will find a fantastic introduction to a profoundly depraved author – best to read before the critically acclaimed Ben Wheatley screen adaptation starring Tom Hiddleston is released later this year.
- The Third Reich – Roberto Bolano
Posthumously published, this book was described as for “completists only” in a New York Times review but this Echidna couldn’t think it further from the truth. Written in the late 80s and most likely based on the Catalan beach town where Bolano resided, The Third Reich is an endearing exploration of mysteries found around the next corner. Udo Berger is a German war games champion taking his first love to his childhood holiday destination in Spain. When an unexpected, confusing, wind-surfing compatriot disappears from the small town, Udo must get to the bottom of it like the detective from his girlfriend’s novels he keeps second-guessing.
- Cotton comes to Harlem – Chester Himes
Unlike the rest of the year, Autumn is a perilous time to catch a train. Falling leaves will bombard your carriage and your train will come to a panicked stop leaving you further from the beans on toast you’d planned for supper. What better to overcome this horrifying truth than a bombastic crime thriller? First published on the pages of Playboy, Cotton comes to Harlem is the story of black detectives Gravedigger Jones and “Coffin” Ed Johnson hot on the tail of a conman exploiting the racial divides of 50s New York. A no-nonsense satire of the black American experience. Check out the theme by Melba Moore from the Blaxploitation 70s remake for your daily soul dose.