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The angel and the cuckoo

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The Angel And The Cuckoo by Gerald Kersh

Paul Auster, Ian McEwan and Don DeLillo all know that the city is a place of absurdity, and each of them have played with the form of their novels to accentuate and clarify the absurdities that city-dwellers face on a daily basis. Yet before any of them had their first novel published Gerald Kersh had written his last masterpiece The Angel And The Cuckoo. This is a novel of London that cuts back and forth in time through the Depression years between the two World Wars, following artists, criminals, lovers, singers, conmen, film producers, writers and other lowlifes as they each follow their singular obsessions.

There are three love stories, all connected by Steve Zobrany, proprietor of The Angel And The Cuckoo, a café in a hidden courtyard at one end of Carnaby Street. Through Zobrany we meet film producer Gèza Cseh, the sublime Alma, artist without an art Tom Henceforth, omnipotent criminal mastermind Perp, and many others. Kersh shows that each of them carries the seeds of corruption, and what they do with these desires will define them for the rest of their lives. All this, and the book is as funny as hell.

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