Boxer, Beetle

Our member Bob Katz writes:

“In idle moments I sometimes like to close my eyes and imagine Joseph Goebbel’s forty-third birthday party.”

This is the opening line of a humorous and bizarre story about Kevin “Fishy” Broom, who lives in a London apartment and deals online in Nazi memorabilia. At a crime scene, Fishy discovers a mysterious Nazi document, which sends the story back to the mid 1930’s in London.

Bauman portrays life in this interwar period among the East End Jews and among the effete British upper class, with sharp humor and irony. The popular topics of the day — eugenics, synthetic languages, Fascism, Mosley Black Shirts and modernism — are skewered with hilarious irony. As to the title, the two central characters in this period are Earl “Sinner” Roach a short, thuggy, nine toed, homosexual Jewish boxer and Philip Erskine, a fascist gentleman entomologist who dreams of breeding an indomitable beetle as tribute to Reich Chancellor Hitler’s glory.

I found this a very enjoyable read, both for the unpredictable imagination of the author, and for the slice of history that he presented in a unique way.