Tuesday, 26 July 2011
Sax Rohmer (Arthur Henry Sarsfield Ward) was batty - his Fu Manchu books are hysterical, he claimed to be a Rosicrucian, and so on.
I am reading Dope Girls by Marek Kohn. It's about the similarity of drug scares over time, and it's terrific. In the 1920s, the hyperbolic kingpins were villainous Chinese, often with more or less willing white wives. In Rohmer's Dope, this is Sin Sin Wa, who had one eye, a pigtail and a raven on his shoulder.* His wife, Lola, is a voluptuous Cuban Jewess from Buenos Aires.** Kohn likes the following mixed metaphor, and so do I:
She was 'one of the night-club birds - a sort of mysterious fungus ... flowering in the dark and fattening on gilded fools.'***
* Romer wasn't thinking of Odin, right?
** Buenos Aires isn't in Cuba.
*** There was a lot of nonsense in these books, but people like Rohmer could hear and turn a phrase. I think it's to do with listening to the words as you write them in longhand rather than poring back over them and editing easily on a screen, which produces more clarity, but often in a painfully tin-eared way.