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Christie Malry's Own Double-entry

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 Thwaite

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