Terry Southern and the American Grotesque

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Get In-Stock Alert. Delivery not available. Pickup not available. This work offers a critical analysis of the varied literary output of novels, short stories, screenplays, articles and essays of the American writer Terry Southern. Exploring Southern's work up to his meeting with film director Stanley Kubrick and entry into the film world in , his writings are examined in chronological order of composition and publication. Southern's rare, unpublished early work from his private archives is also cataloged.

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See our disclaimer. This work offers a critical biography and analysis of the varied literary output of novels, short stories, screenplays, poetry, articles and essays of the American writer Terry Southern. The book explores Southern's career from his early days in Paris with friends like Samuel Beckett, to swinging London in such company as the Rolling Stones, to filmmaking in Los Angeles and Europe with luminaries like Stanley Kubrick.

His writings are examined in chronological order.

Terry Southern and the American Grotesque

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At any rate, it seemed too large for this road, and David drove slower now as the way wound and dipped and turned sharply through the hills. David moaned. He switched off the motor and the headlights, got out of the car, walked around the back of it, and opened the trunk, scarcely looking at the blown-out tire. It was, he knew, the badly worn right rear, which they had thought to get the last use from before trading it for a new one.

Fortunately the incline here was not too bad, he decided, less than ten degrees anyway, and there seemed to be just enough room between the car and the side of the hill to allow for changing the tire. In their motoring through Spain he had become proficient at this work and so proceeded rapidly now with only the taillight of the car as illumination. Feeling with his hand, he placed the jack at the right place beneath the axle and started turning the handle. As the weight took hold, the dirt on the road surface beneath the jack made a crunching sound and the turning became stiff, while in the half light he could just see the dark flatness of the tire begin to seek its shape—then something snapped, a loud cracking noise of metal tooth, and the car seemed to make a little jump backwards.

His first thought was that Vivian had accidentally hit the gearshift in crossing her lovely legs the image did not escape him , putting the car in neutral, and an oath for her was ready on his lips. But he knew almost as soon, remembering the snap of tension in his hand, that it was the jack, broken, and when he turned it now, nothing at all happened, only a sort of grinding sound. He got it out and went around to the front of the car. He examined the jack, turning the socket with his hand; it turned, quite uselessly. Finally he came around and got in the car, cursing himself for not having moved it to a more level place before using the jack, and again, for not having taken the luggage out.

He turned on the radio. They had driven a long way since a light lunch at about noon and he felt now the first pangs of hunger.

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It occurred to him that her share of the luggage was a good deal more than his and had probably been crucial in breaking the jack. It appeared that they were halfway between Ormea, behind them, and Bagnasco ahead—two towns 24 kilometers apart. They remembered coming through Ormea and put it at about ten kilometers back, so that Bagnasco then would be 14 farther on.

He had just recalled, too, that it was Sunday. Vivian stared at the map a minute longer and put it away. They sat in silence for a while; the radio, which David had not bothered to put squarely on a station, was emitting a low static and one or two distant voices. David flipped his cigarette through the window. It was quite dark now; there was no traffic on the road, nor, he imagined, was any likely—they had passed only one car since turning off at Imperia, 40 kilometers back. The question was, he supposed, whether to walk ten kilometers back to Ormea, as against 14 ahead to Bagnasco gambling the extra four kilometers on the chance of there being a small town before it not on the map.

Did you see it? She leaned to his side and around him. Vivian was smiling happily. You can see from here that there are no telephone wires, no possibility of a car ever having been there, and, apparently, nobody at home. See what , if I may ask? You may be right!

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At first opportunity he stepped off the road, got on the slope, and began picking his way across the ground toward the house. The moon was out, but there were clouds enough that the light was scarcely more than adequate. When he was about halfway up, a dog began to howl and bark, rather fiercely—or was it a wolf? He was fairly certain it was. The noise of the dog grew more violent with his every step nearer the dark house. He stopped. What, after all, was the use?

There was no one at home. It was time wasted, time better spent on the road to Ormea He tightened his grip on the implements and went on. In another two minutes he was standing in the angle of the L-shaped shadow of the house. On his left were the door of the house and two shuttered windows, the edges on one lined with yellow lamplight.

On his right, a sort of shed that joined the house, forming the angle—it was in there the dog raged, behind double-doors which shook under the impact of his charge. His bark, without having noticeably decreased in volume, had become a sustained and savage snarl. David knocked lightly on the door. There was no answer, but he had the feeling he was being observed.

The presence of the jack and handle, such a comfort on his way up, he suddenly felt as a grotesque onus. Standing here in the shadow holding them, would he not appear rather sinister himself, even as one lurking in an ambush outside the door of this isolate cabin? He held the handle vertically flat against his leg and tried to conceal the jack by turning his body slightly sideways away from the house.

Good God , he thought, he must be mad—that was much worse. Already seen and now concealing the weapon! He put them both on the ground and knocked again. Would not the dog be released against the trespasser? Why not? Or would he not, after all, be blasted at close range by some kind of primeval shotgun, which even now was being carefully aimed?

Then the door opened; the dog stopped, and a very large man of about 50 stood in the raised doorway with the yellow light behind him. He had a napkin stuck in his shirt and was still moving his mouth. Well, here goes. The man stepped down out of the doorway into the rectangle of light. He wiped his fingers on the napkin in his shirt and then took the jack from David and examined it. He turned the socket with his hand. He was turning it the wrong way. He said something in Italian and put his finger in the socket indicating that a handle was needed. David sighed inwardly.

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The man shook his head at the jack, and it struck David that he might not know what it was. A minute later he was opening the doors of the shed, holding up a lamp in one hand and pushing the doors wide apart to reveal to David the sparsity of any such equipment as the jack. He invited David to see for himself. It was a woodshed, half filled with stacked logs and a great pile of kindling. An ax was stuck in a chopping-block tree stump—he pointed that out first.

Then he walked around the shed, picking up its few items, one after the other, a wedge, a hoe, a machete, discarding each with a shrug to show its impracticality in this situation.