‘A Bit of a Smash in Madras’ by Julian Maclaren-Ross

This story is worth reading for its energy level, which stops just short of delirium, and the writer’s knack for capturing the wild lexicon of 1940s slang. He knows how to start: “Absolute fact, I knew damn all about it”. In the middle, he mainly knows how to swear brilliantly and how to display the excesses of colonialism— let’s just say he is a very flawed narrator indeed. And he really, really knows how to end with a very sly “look to the camera”. The brilliant last sentence gives away the tawdry fact that, in life as in fiction, Maclaren-Ross was overfond of delivering bombastic monologues at the bar. But they don’t make bar-room bores quite like him any more, alas.

(1940; most recently in Selected Stories from Dewi Lewis, but out of print I think.) 

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