“You will need to read this book more than once. You will want to read this book more than once. Because The Killing of a Bank Manager includes within the text an extensive reading syllabus, which, when placed end-to-end, will repeatedly spell out a different opinion of what is going on. Sure, Mr. T. S. Eliot (contrary to popular opinion the T. S. is NOT short for Tough Shit) did this in his magnificent ramble through the St. James Park of Human Syphilization THE WASTELAND. But with footnotes. Mr. Kavanagh (NOT the television show of the same name) achieves a similar self-expansion through the mind of Henry, who is at once Mr. K. and all the many books he has read, paintings he has adored, music he has felt, and our narrator Henry the butcher boy, who collages and puppets quotes and snippets from 4,000 years of literature, philosophy and science into a Rorshach of his own inexplicably demented mission: kill this other character who really doesn’t exist any more than does Henry, or Mr. K., or (mon semblable, mon frere) the reader itself. Mr. Kavanagh’s prose reads like a collage of stick-up notes from a long career of knocking over tony financial institutions. His success at this endeavor can largely be attributed to the invisibility of the stick-up man. You never see Kavanagh. All you see is ballsy demand after demand shoved with exquisite vocabulary and baldfaced syntax directly under your nose. From prologue to denouement, The Killing of a Bank Manager will keep you on the edge of your tongue. This is a how-to for those who aspire to murder those who steal. The book doesn’t necessarily prove that two wrongs make a right, but rather that two wrongs can be infinitely more interesting. Put the money in the bag. Push the alarm, and you will die laughing.”
“It’s a rare writer that can create an entire world in a single sentence. Rarer still is the writer who can combine these sentences to tell a compelling story. Paul Kavanagh has both skills in abundance. His work is beautiful, moving, funny, tragic, and achingly human.”
“Kavanagh’s versatile. He can speak as a representative of both the trailer park and the university. His voice can be British, it can be American. He seems to be afraid of the things the body does to itself as it ages. It’s quite possible he has engaged in public acts of copulation. He’s probably slept with his head in a puddle. Maybe he’s had some teeth knocked out in a bar fight. Maybe he played soccer for university. Hell if I know.”
The commodious apartment was above a beauty salon that contained no beauty. No, there was one beauty. A real beauty. Laura Applebright. Upon that face there was no index to point out, the vagaries of time had left no mark, dent, blemish. The face could have been sculptured by the deft hands of a plastic surgeon or the paintbrush of Renaissance Artist, Antonio del Pollaiuolo, no, Filippo Lippi, no, Piero di Cosimo. The lipstick was applied by the hands of a child just before puberty hovering just over the lips. The skin was smooth, the nose perfect, the chin rounded like an apple. The face had jumped through the loop of adolescence, no crushes, no teenage fondling, no scanning magazines searching for fashion, no rushing to the store for the latest hit song, no dreams, no desires. Each musculature twitch, tremble, tick of Laura was catalogued. Alphabetically catalogued and placed in his filing cabinet, a wunderkammer, a cabinet of curiosities.
Henry knew every piece of clothing that Laura possessed. Laura possessed five pairs of shoes. One shoe was broken. The heel had come away. She had tried superglue.
Laura possessed three rings. Henry was positive one was a fake. The skin around the ring was stained green.
Laura possessed seven shirts. Her favourite was a floral shirt. She wore this shirt the most. Sometimes three times in a week.
Laura liked skirts that went down to her knees. Maybe she had funny knees. Henry had never seen her knees.
Laura was the kite in Mary Poppins.
Laura was the honey in Winnie the Pooh.
Laura was everlasting youth in Peter Pan.
Laura was Pure Imagination in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.
Henry reads Barbara Cartland out loud and Laura listens.
Henry and Laura listen to The Marriage of Figaro and watch the rain fall.
Henry and Laura watch: Ese oscuro objeto del deseo or That Obcure Object of Desire and are very happy.
Henry and Laura run through the local library and art gallery. It takes them 2 minutes and 45 seconds. While running they laugh wildly. Henry holds Laura’s hand tightly. It would have taken them 45 seconds but they stopped to look at a sketch by Beatrix Potter.
The morning light illuminates your morning beauty boundless. Do you know that you are my star? Tonight I bring you wine and bread. You are my Leander. I am your Hero. Just hold out the light and I shall return my love. I shall swim from Sestus to Abydus and I shall return to you, said Henry.
No, he never said it.
Please forgive me for my superfluities but I need to write to you. I find that you have invaded my life. You are now everything … The moon the stars and the foundation that holds them in the night sky.
No, he never sent the letter.
You naughty boy. Don’t be coy now.
A flash of thigh.
A placed kiss upon an exposed …
An assignation between young couples.
A stormy sea to cross, a light in the window to guide the swimmer, huge waves, a waiting damsel, and instead of the swimmer drowning in the rough waters, let him enter the room …
Days/nights in the commodious apartment Henry smoked, bit his nails, combed his hair, blew his nose, removed sleep from his eyes, rubbed indentations off his face, slept, farted, coughed, sneezed, hiccupped, puked, played with his anus and pretended he was dead. He talked to himself, whispered, joked, sang, preached, old habits die hard, dined with himself, became the babbler, the chatterbox, the malicious gossip, the sycophant, the boor, the shameless cad, the supercilious snob. The commodious apartment was a carnival of the bizarre, and he played top billing. His mind was an aquarium and his thoughts were little fish that went round and round. His memories were the elephant nose fish, his happiness the fancy guppies, the African butterfly fish seemed to be always sad and the goldfish were lust. Laura was the Black Knife Fish. This fish devoured all other fish in the aquarium.
Henry and Laura visited a zoo.
Henry and Laura watched television.
Henry and Laura went to the movies. They had popcorn. Laura said, popcorn looks like molars.
Laura liked skimmed-milk.
Laura liked ham sandwiches.
Laura liked working at the beauty salon.
A woman by the name of Martha owned the beauty salon. She was an extremely ugly woman. Her ugliness was only matched by the wallpaper.
No matter. No concern. No worry. La folle giornata. I want to define beauty, find the right words, the right metaphors, relate a paradox, elucidate the right paradigm, I want to scream from rooftops, I want to shout down your ear, I want I want, the boy wanted the girl. Click to download a full excerpt of The Killing of a Bank Manager.