Lint, Steve Aylett, Snowbooks, 2007
Jeff Lint, prolific pulp sci-fi writer, was one of those ‘crazy’ people who went around being ‘original’. The sort of chap who would hand in work dressed as a majorette, wander round ‘blessing’ people, referring to them as my ‘liege’ and also attempting to conjure magic tricks which he just couldn’t master, “a shortcoming he tackled by punching the observer’s lights out just before the moment of wonder”. Heck, what a craaaazzy guy. And guys like this always recruit, at the time of their fame or, more often than not, posthumously, geeky fans. These fans pontificate, articulate and wank over all these eccentricities, hailing their literary God as a brand above the rest, some futuristic being whose madness and methodology is quintessentially era-defining. Steve Aylett, author of Lint, is said archetypal fan. Magically and bizarrely, Aylett succeeds in telling it how it is, littering the text with tangents and placing Lint on a plateau of self importance but with absolutely no analytical judgement of the man in question. In fact, he tends not to question Lint’s motives or his extreme eccentricity and assumes that this kind of behaviour is acceptable if you’re a ‘creative’ writer.
His fast paced biography of a guy who, far from being unique seems to be nothing more than a self-aggrandising, attention seeking cock, is a well-informed love-in of this pulp-lit sci-fi author who was a contemporary of Philip K. Dick and Jack Kerouac. Lint was part of the fifties Beat generation, hanging out with the cool kids, being whacky, getting spooked by Orwell’s Martian prank of 1938 and experimenting with sci-fi political science, so his eccentricity and anti-establishment behaviour was paramount for his reputation. Or perhaps not. Aylett’s homage to Lint is heart-warming in as much that his respect and intensity for his subject matter is blatantly clear, but his boot-licking and cringe-worthy style of writing and sycophantic recollections of some of Lint’s crazier stunts and quotations portrays the man as a bit of a twat — someone who tries just a little too hard to be different / interesting / unique.
And in order to read this biography, you have to be in a club. Sorry, I mean in ‘THE’ club — lightning quips, memories and references to people, times and places are scantily elucidated and scarcely explained, suggesting prior knowledge is useful, if not a prerequisite. The book is therefore fairly inaccessible and without much background information of the era and only brief contextual references, it’s easy to get lost, especially with oft jumpy chronology.
The life and times of Lint are communicated, in a round about sort of way, and the book is educational and, in parts, mildly funny. A few colourful images of front covers offer light relief and by no means is this book overly high brow for your average reader. However, unless you have any vested interested in pulp science fiction as a genre and have exhausted all the pulp sci-fi books that are available, then it would be difficult to appreciate this offering from Steve Aylett.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Jessica Hope has a Masters degree in Religion and Political Life from the University of Manchester and is currently Director and Editor of The Spike Magazine, with the first issue coming out in the Spring. Hopefully. She has written for and edited numerous Manchester based publications.
First published in 3:AM Magazine: Sunday, February 25th, 2007.