Thursday, February 25, 2016

Happy 99th Birthday, Anthony Burgess

25 February 1917 - 22 November 1993

I normally hold novels with gimmicky language in contempt, but Anthony Burgess made his Russian-inspired patois in A Clockwork Orange such jolly dark fun to read. God help me, there was a brief period in 1982 after I first read the book in which I’d actually talk like this to people. Like I said, it was a brief period. It was horrorshow in the more literal sense of the English portmanteau than a clever homophone for the Russian word for “good.”
From Weirdbook Magazine’s Facebook page. They’re on a hot streak with the memes and creepy art this week.

As someone who’s written a few disturbing scenes for novels, I love the legend about Anthony Burgess presumably staying drunk while writing the A Clockwork Orange because it was the only way he could handle the grim material. If it’s not true—who cares, print the legend!

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that A Clockwork Orange is merely the most popular and well-known of Anthony Burgess’ varied and vast career, not only as a prolific novelist and critic, but as a composer. You can look it up. For another dark speculative fiction novel of Burgess’ that seems most prescient given our media’s obsession with certain fads and how those are used to control a population’s focus of attention, I recommend The Wanting Seed.