ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE

David Seabrook . Granta $14.95 (192p) ISBN 978-1-86207-483-5

Seabrook travels the decaying resorts on the southeastern coast of England, tracing the adventures of literary and other madmen in this impressionistic and erudite debut. Weaving historical information with personal stories and observations of the economically depressed seaside panoramas, he begins in downtrodden Margate, the onetime seaside funscape where T.S. Eliot lived after the Great War (and before his stay at a Lausanne sanitarium) to finish writing The Waste Land. Seabrook also visits a house near Rochester owned by Charles Dickens during his last "miserable" years, and investigates the life of Richard Dadd, a painter and parricide whose story, Seabrook argues, inspired Dickens's The Mystery of Edwin Drood. He journeys to Broadstairs, site of John Buchan's The Thirty-Nine Steps, slowly unraveling the history of the British Union of Fascists, and on to Deal, a homosexual enclave where the author revisits a number of ghastly murders. The subject matter and melancholy tone will remind readers of W.G. Sebald's The Rings of Saturn, though this book doesn't have the psychological acuity or artistry of Sebald's work. Seabrook's writing is at times stirring and inventive ("the action [of The Thirty-Nine Steps] couldn't move any faster if you were to draw matchstick men at the tops of the pages and flick them"), but the structure of the book is so loose and digressive that the stories often lack emotional impact. Illus. (May)

Reviewed on: 02/04/2002
Release date: 00/00/0000
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 178 pages - 978-1-86207-559-7
Open Ebook - 192 pages - 978-1-78378-126-3
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