In his heyday, during the 1960s and early 1970s, B. S. Johnson was one of the best-known novelists in Britain. A passionate advocate for the avant-garde, he became famous for his forthright views on the future of the novel and for his unique ways of putting them into practice. Christie Malry’s Own Double-Entry, the last novel to be published in his lifetime, is his funniest.
Christie Malry is a simple man. As a young accounts clerk at a confectionery factory in London he learns the principles of Double-Entry Bookkeeping. Frustrated by the petty injustices that beset his life – particularly those caused by the behaviour of authority figures – he determines a unique way to settle his grievances: a system of moral double-entry bookkeeping. So, for every offence society commits against him, Christie exacts recompense. ‘Every Debit must have its Credit, the First Golden Rule’ of the system. All accounts are to be settled, and they are – in the most alarming way.
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Beautifully constructed, funny and poignant, Christie Malry's Own Double-Entry is regarded as B.S. Johnson's most humorous book but it is a dark, sly humour predicated on the distaste Johnson had for an oppressive post-war British society (an oppression he delineates brilliantly in The Unfortunates).
Christie is, we are told, a simple man, who works in a bank alongside, but excluded from, money. He moves from the bank to learn Double-Entry Bookkeeping in a firm called Tappers, where his disillusionment deepens leading to his Great Idea: he decides to use the principles of Double-Entry (an Aggravation column for offences caused to him, a Recompense column detailing his revenge) to settle his accounts with society.
Johnson (1933-1973), a forgotten hero of the British avant-garde of the 1960s and 70s (he committed suicide when he was not yet 40), wrote seven wonderful novels that echo Joyce and Beckett in their intelligence, inventiveness and genius for language. The books, full of the kind of typographical innovations so beloved of the concrete poets, have been largely ignored since Johnson killed himself but more than deserve to be looked at again; writers as skilled as Johnson are very few and far between indeed. --Mark ThwaiteReview:
‘Delightful to read, highly amusing, and clever’ Daily Telegraph
‘Johnson has undoubtedly written a masterpiece’ Auberon Waugh
‘The most accessible, exuberant and despairing of all his works’ John Lanchester
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Book Description William Collins, London, United Kingdom, 1973. Hard Cover. Book Condition: Very Good -. Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good -. First Edition. Hardcover with unclipped dust jacket, 187 pages; very gently used ex-library copy with, several rubber stamps, card pocket attached to free front endpaper, just a hint of cover edge wear, two tiny pale faded (coffee?) drop stains to fore edge with a trace of penetration to outer margins of several pages, text pages otherwise very clean and unmarked, fresh and white; mylar-protected dust jacket taped to covers but loosening, probably removable, DJ appears very bright and clean underneath, except for tiny spine label, but no chips or tears. Bookseller Inventory # 038073
Book Description Collins, London, 1973. Hard Cover. Book Condition: Fine. Dust Jacket Condition: Near Fine. First Edition. This is a Fine Copy of this Book in a Near Fine Dust-Jacket with NO chips or tears to the outer edges of the dust-jacket.There is some sun fading to the red title lettering along spine.Not price clipped and this copy has no previous ownership inscriptions present.Lovely Clean copy internally.The book has a firm binding with no hinge weakness and there is no leaning or rolling to spine.The dust-jacket comes well protected in a removable clear cover sleeve.Great collector's copy 8vo 180pp First Edition 1st Impression Size: 8vo - over 4¾" - 5¾" Tall. Bookseller Inventory # 73204
Book Description HarperCollins Distribution Services, 1973. Book Condition: Good. First Edition. N/A. Ships from the UK. Former Library book. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. Bookseller Inventory # GRP17879781
Book Description Collins, London, 1973. Hardback in Dustwrapper. Book Condition: Good+. Dust Jacket Condition: Good+. 1st Edition. Green boards, unclipped dustwrapper. Dw a little faded on spine, bumped at some edges with faint brown marks to rear cover. Book itself has a couple of small faint marks to 1st free endpaper but otherwise unmarked, tight and good+. Bookseller Inventory # 59403
Book Description Collins, London, 1973. Hard Cover. Book Condition: Fine. Dust Jacket Condition: Near Fine Plus. First Edition. Dust jacket is price-clipped, has a 1/4" tear top of front panel and a 1/4" tear top of rear panel and none of the usual fading of the spine panel. A novel by this British author. Bookseller Inventory # 10853