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3:AM Cult Hero: Patrick Hamilton

“In the meanwhile, it would be best to get drunk. He did so.”

Andrew Stevens on The Gorse Trilogy:

The Hamilton back catalogue forms an odd assortment, with Twenty Thousand Streets Under The Sky out in Vintage Classics and Hangover Square still doing well as a Penguin Modern Classic, while Impromptu in Moribundia, his most explicitly political work as a declared Marxist, can also be found on a small press.

Ignore Nick Hornby’s banal comment about Hamilton being the missing piece of motorway between Dickens and Martin Amis, Hamilton’s worth is proven by the devoted legions of fans among younger authors such as Dan Rhodes and Niven Govinden and those who pack out rooms above pubs in Soho at nights organised by the Sohemian Society.


While the Gorse trilogy is not exactly Hamilton’s magnum opus (especially the drink-soaked Unknown Assailant), it does demonstrate his handy knack for both literature and drama and we can all raise a glass to its reissue, something I fear the man “who needed whisky like a car needed petrol” and died of multiple organ failure would approve no doubt.

More: Charlotte Stretch reviews The Gorse Trilogy for 3:AM / ‘Unhappy Hour’, Dan Rhodes on The Midnight Bell / ‘Pulped fictions’, Iain Sinclair on the film adaptations of Hamilton’s work / Cathi Unsworth drinks in London through Patrick Hamilton’s eyes / ‘The lost worlds of Patrick Hamilton’, D.J. Taylor’s introduction to The Gorse Trilogy / Is the world ready for Patrick Hamilton?

First posted: Wednesday, January 20th, 2010.

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