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The Queue

Authors: Jonathan Barrow

Published by CB Editions

ISBN: 9780956735911

£7.99
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"A wild picaresque fantasy, erotically polymorphous... with a cast of bizarre humans and talking animals."
The Independent on Sunday

I glance down and see a dachshund nosing at my ankles. She is a stray. Together we walk to the station cafeteria and queue for 25 minutes to get tea and pies. Round her neck is a disk and it tells me her name is Mary.

The narrator and Mary – alcoholic, drug-addicted, nymphomaniac – embark on a dizzying odyssey through the abattoirs, strip clubs, prison cells, lunatic asylums and sewers of England. Encounters with hens, giant wood pigeons, snakes and many other species punctuate their progress. Bodily fluids flow profusely. Sexual malpractice is never more than a page away.

Written in the months before his death in a car crash in 1970 at the age of twenty-two, Jonathan Barrow’s The Queue is a book that doesn’t know when to say when. It’s a satire on the professional world; a mockery of the laws of good taste; a children’s story turned inside out, wound around a core of innocence and affection.

"The Queue is one of the most extraordinary, original – and funniest – books I have ever read. Subversive, satirical, like a farcical, erotic, animal-human animated film, it is, I think, a work of strange, obsessive genius."
Jonathan Gathorne-Hardy

"The Queue is difficult to define. Picaresque encounters, recounted at speed, include bizarre scatological episodes and much random violence... Yet [Jonathan Barrow’s] novel’s final sentences prove that he possessed and could express compassion."
Paul Binding, Times Literary Supplement

The Queue, published here in full for the first time, provided the framework for Andrew Barrow’s memoir of his brother, Animal Magic, published by Jonathan Cape in early 2011. Reviewing Animal Magic in the Independent, Richard Canning wrote that "No stranger book will appear this year – with the possible exception of Andrew Barrow’s deceased brother Jonathan’s novel The Queue... after more than 40 years of neglect." Other reviewers of Andrew Barrow’s memoir have already praised The Queue: "Wildly inventive and surreal... At its height Jonathan’s writing has shades of Evelyn Waugh in its eye for detail and pomposity, fascination with the British class system and eye for the absurd" (Jane Thynne, Literary Review).

"Savagely surreal... A rare comic talent."
Francis Wheen, The Mail on Sunday

"A highly idiosyncratic maypole... with its motley cast of schoolmasters, policemen, perverts, dogs and hens... repeatedly recalls Joe Orton in its macabre preoccupations and scabrous humour."
Rupert Thomson, The Guardian

"Bizarre and beautiful."
Janine Johnston, Waterstone’s Books Quarterly

"Darkly comic, treading a thin line between brilliance and total barminess."
Elisabeth Day, The Observer

"The macabre fascination of an adolescent Mervyn Peake."
Rory Bruce Knight, Country Life

"Arrestingly ludicrous... apocalyptically violent."
Stephanie Cross, The Lady

"Jonathan wrote about animals, birds and fish as if they were human, implicitly deriding the absurd illogicality of human social behaviour."
Patrick Skene Catling, The Spectator

Jonathan Barrow was born in 1947 at Sawbridgeworth, Herts, the youngest of five brothers. He worked briefly at the Dorchester and Claridge’s hotels before getting a job as an advertising copywriter. He published stories in The London Magazine and exhibited pictures at the Redfern Gallery. He died with his fiancée in a car crash a few days after finishing writing The Queue.
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