Papa won’t leave you, Henry, so there ain’t no need to cry…
I remember distinctly a moment when reading his novel, And the Ass Saw the Angel–a horribly gothic, bleak, terrifying book. I was sitting in the train station in Boston waiting to travel to Providence to see my brother at college. I ran across some awful passage in the book and felt my face contort. I looked up and saw someone across the way reading and making a similar face. I thought, I’ve only previously had this sort of reaction to something gross in a novel when reading Stephen Fry’s The Hippopotamus. A moment later, the guy across the way raised up the book that he was reading and it was The Hippopotamus.
I don’t know what exactly that tells you except that Fry’s description of man-beast sex is probably universally disturbing. And that Cave’s novel is equally so. Though I don’t recall any human-equine carnal relations.
I’m sure at the time, I thought And the Ass… was a good book. I groped for some reason to like it, like I did with many of the books I used to read and music I used to listen to. But I don’t have any desire to read it again and that tells you everything you need to know.
Hilariously, before selecting a Bad Seeds song for the title of this post, I did an Amazon search on Cave’s first band, The Birthday Party, to see if I could remember some of their lyrics from the song titles. I ran across one of those priceless Amazon reviews. The opening sentence was pretty hilarious:
Hearing that this was Nick Lowe’s other band, I knew I was in for a treat! Boy was I ever. Having abandoned the cold suit-and-tie affair for a sound that may appeal to the younger generation a bit more, he takes on a much scarier approach here.
I wondered for a moment before continuing whether he was being serious or not. But he gives up the ghost in the next paragraph. Still, an excellent review.