I’m assuming you all know who Jonathan Littell is. Come on… you must all remember the SF classic, Bad Voltage (written in 1989). It left an indelible mark in my mind in the mid to late 90s where you’d find it in every second hand bookshop in Melbourne and in remainder bins. I saw it so often, that I assumed the book was crap. Because no-one remainders good books. Do they!?
On the advice of my dear friend Ori, I bought a copy of Bad Voltage, put it on my shelf and promptly forgot about the book and Jonathan Littell.
And then today I was listening to the March 7 edition of the New York Times Book Review on Pooky my little poddie and the name, Jonathan Littlell, was mentioned and suddenly I was having flashbacks of Bad Voltage with its washed out cover of two punks and a sort of post apocalyptic landscape. Or something. I might have been making that up. The point is, I nearly walked into a pole, so shocked was I that Jonathan Littell, author of a remaindered sci-fi book that maybe seven people and Ori Shifrin had heard of was being mentioned on the New York Times Book Review for writing the most controversial book of the year – first in French and now in English.
The book is called the Kindly Ones. It’s about an SS Officer during WW2. Surprisingly he’s not a nice bloke and apart from killing Jews is also keen on sodomising himself with a sausage. The book is also 992 pages long and has been hailed by some as an outright classic and others as the worst book ever written. Which, of course, has only tempted me to buy it. And a hankering for a Kransky.
But more then my sudden taste for Kosher boiled frankfurts, I suddenly have this overwhelming urge to find Bad Voltage, to wipe of the inch of dust and to sit down and see if it has any kinky sex scenes in it.
Whatever the case, it’s nice to see a French writer from the SF ghetto – even if it was only one book – break out and make it HUGE. I’m sure that’s something SF writers – looking to rake in the cash and break away from the midlist -can take onboard. Write a book about WW2, depravity, sodomy and sausages and you’re sure to make it big.