Saturday, December 16, 2006


A mottled bruise, a slowly seeping internal wound of a book. Michael Barnes hooks up with a gang of petty hoodlums to rig a big annual horse race, not realizing that the beast they steal has cyclical needs for bloody sacrifice. As bigger players in London's seedy underworld try to chisel in, hapless Barnes will lose everything.

That's merely the surface of The Lime Twig; its great brooding icy mass functions invisibly, chilling the reader beneath the surface, in the twilit realm of hypnagogic imaginings. The obscure title's significance resides in the deceitful promise of the chief gangster to his mistress that he is soon out of the game and willing to take her on a retirement voyage--a mixed image of deceit and hope uttered during the clean-up following a foul atrocity. It was Hawkes' alarming gift to render the heinous and brutal in beautiful erotic prose.

I went through a big Hawkes phase in my 20s. Good one to revisit.

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