:: Article

The Killing of a Bank Manager

By Willie Smith.


The Killing of a Bank Manager, Paul Kavanagh, Honest Publishing 2011

You will need to read this book more than once. You will want to read this book more than once. Because The Killing of Bank Manager includes within the text an extensive reading syllabus, which, when placed end-to-end, will repeatedly spell out a different opinion of what is going on. Sure, Mr. T. S. Eliot (contrary to popular opinion the T. S. is not short for Tough Shit) did this in his magnificent ramble through the St. James Park of Human Syphilization The Wasteland. But with footnotes. Mr. Kavanagh (not the television show of the same name) achieves a similar self-expansion through the mind of Henry, who is at once Mr. K. and all the many books he has read, paintings he has adored, music he has felt, and our narrator Henry the butcher boy, who collages and puppets quotes and snippets from 4,000 years of literature, philosophy and science into a Rorshach of his own inexplicably demented mission: kill this other character who really doesn’t exist any more than does Henry, or Mr. K., or (mon semblable, mon frere) the reader itself.

The Killing of a Bank Manager is about its text’s own vacuum fluctuation. There is nothing there. Absolutely nothing. Just a vast endless void teeming with the eternally self-annihilating matter and anti-matter of quotes and misquotes and mangled disremembrances and rewroughtings and nose-pickings and nail-bitings of Hamlet, Omar Khayyam, Thomas Kyd, Aristotle, Jesus, Piranesi, Watteau, Bosch, Villon, Marlowe, Webster (both the playwright and the dictionary), Lucian, Plato, Richard Dadd, the socially-acceptable demonic authors of Malleus Maleficarum, Verlaine, Baudelaire (Les Fleurs du mal becomes a crucial character (unaffectionately known as “Les”) who quotes Verlaine), Deschamps, Sunny Jim Joyce, Tough Shit Eliot, Mark Twain, Petronius.

Oppenheimer at the moment of his catastrophic triumph impresses posterity with a plasma-hot line from Bhagavad Gita. Courtly Love drags its mucosal ass across the page in molts of Castiglione, Catullus, Ovid, Petrarch and Don “Bugsy” Quixote himself. The Kinvad Bridge, rather than leading to paradise, brings us right back around to Katha Upanishad’s razor’s edge, where a determined and horny Lancelot slices ankles, knees, wrists, fingers, elbows, humping on all-fours across the Sword Bridge to rescue the hottest queen in Christendom.

Crowley, Blavatsky and The Golden Dawn peek through the cracks, grab at ankles, desperate to convince anyone – the reader, the characters, the author, Mephistopheles, God Herself – of their reality. Burton hovers his anatomy half a red cunthair above this orgy of metaphysics, offal, ordure, sputa, ectoplasmic effluvia and atrabilious magic.

The only way out would have been the quim spoon. But the quim herself, mistress of the quill, even her quivers trace back to strings the devil holds with a careless, inept hand. As it is, the sole escape is deeper in through the prose of Kavanagh, deeper and deeper asleep in the valley of the Spoon of the Quim and the Penis of Babble. If this is pornography, then the Bible is anti-Semitic. If this is irreligious, then logic has no god. This is a very mad book. Read with both sufficient care and adequate inattention, it just might drive you sane.


Willie Smith is the author of Oedipus Cadet. He is deeply ashamed of being human. His work celebrates this horror.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Thursday, September 8th, 2011.