|Five Leaves Publications|
the guardian Tue 06 December 2011
In the early 60s, Del-Rivo was part of a loose collective, based in North Kensington, that included Colin Wilson and Alexander Trocchi. Her debut novel, first published in 1961, is a perfect encapsulation of that shady, shifting Ladbroke Grove on the cusp of profound social change. Slum landlords, slumming toffs and Oswald Mosley's exploitative street rallies form the backdrop for a story that aligns with the "new existentialism" spearheaded by Wilson, but with shades of Patrick Hamilton's earlier Hangover Square in its portrait of a mind irrevocably splitting. Joe Beckett has lost his faith and now exists in a twilight world of boarding houses, bottle parties and cafés, tormented by his faithless girlfriend Isla and the awareness of his own violent impulses. When he encounters the conman Dyce he is drawn into a murderous conspiracy that he seizes as an opportunity to "shock himself back to life". Filmed by Michael Winner as West 11 in 1963, this is a welcome return to print for an evocative taste of black-coffee blues.