Quotes From My Non-Bryant & May Books No. 6: ‘Spanky’
This was the book that propelled me back into the bestseller lists, thanks largely to a cover that really did epater le bourgeois, with its model, real name Fritz Kok (true) daring readers to pick the book up. I had found the image in a Dutch postcard shop, but oddly it was sold to the publisher by the reps, who knew a good thing when they saw one, overcoming the editors’ fears. A competition was launched by the national press to find the model, and the Evening Standard gave it the dubious ‘Stiffy Of The Week’ award. I was forced to go touring with the model, which proved an awful mistake. It’s one thing to have an outrageous non-threatening cover but another entirely to drag someone in the costume around Bluewater.
The book is my take on Faust, with a twist. I thought; if the Devil came to earth now, people would want something very different from him now. My version concerns Martyn, a disadvantaged young man working in a furniture showroom, who is befriended by the dude he’d like to become, the eponymous Spanky – but is Spanky a demon, as he insists, or just a figment of Martyn’s imagination? The film rights were sold, Guillermo del Toro was down to direct, and then the project vanished. To this day I think it was scuppered by a similar twist being used in ‘Fight Club’, which appeared the same year. Reading it again, I’m surprised how obsessed with sensuality it is. Here, Spanky shares his senses with Martyn:
Spanky placed his palms on my chest, and I felt the warmth of his spreading fingers, only to watch in alarm as his hands sank inside me. It was as though the top half of his body was merging with mine. My natural fear of being touched by another male grew as I seemed to feel him within my body, brushing across the nerve-ends in my immobile form. Now he had completely merged with me, his arms resting into the shape of mine, his legs flexing and filling the space occupied by my own limbs. With the softest of snaps his vertebrae joined with my own, his ribs and liver and heart and lungs invading mine in a rush of blood and sinew so that we were duplex, his skull reaching out into my own head until we were two people holding one place in time.