Get Carter. By Ted Lewis.
We all know that modern, industrial society has carelessly wounded the Earth’s environment. Sometimes we ask ourselves some fairly deep questions. What role did we have in creating this mess? What type of people cause it? What can be done? All of these questions have apocryphal answers. Ted Lewis, in one of the best noir fiction novels ever; gives us intelligent speculations.
The novel Jack’s Return Home (1970) is known by the title of the movie adaptation Get Carter.*,** It is short, puts bottom line up front, and terse to the point of making Ernest Hemmingway seem long-winded. It focuses less on environmental issues than more modern authors in the Crime Fiction genre. However, by describing the environment and having the characters interact with the post-industrial ruins, Lewis offers insights regarding the polluted and ravaged environments in 1970’s Northern England. These can easily be universalized to describe similar ruin in modern America.
The book involves protagonist Jack Carter, who returns home to see to the affairs of his honorable and decent deceased brother, Frank. He quickly decides that foul play was involved and proceeds to turn over every rock and step on every roach in the entire corrupt burg trying to set things right for his posthumously defamed brother. It’s a classic novel in the category of “this town needs an enema” fiction. In the course of vicariously exterminating all the roaches, we learn about how the world can be trashed and just what sort of person does the trashing.
At first there’s just the blackness. The rocking of the train, the reflections against the raindrops and the blackness. But if you keep looking beyond the reflections you eventually notice the glow creeping into the sky. At first it’s slight and you think maybe a haystack or a petrol tanker or something is on fire somewhere over a hill and out of sight. But then you notice that the clouds themselves are reflecting the glow and you know that it must be something bigger. And a little later the train passes through a cutting and curves away towards the town, a small bright concentrated area of light and beyond and …read more