Quotes From My Non-Bryant & May Books No. 6: ‘Spanky’

Reading & Writing



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.

5 comments on “Quotes From My Non-Bryant & May Books No. 6: ‘Spanky’”

  1. Matt says:

    Yeah this was the book that bought me to you…. I picked up the audio book in HMV while in the classical section, odd it should have been there but even more odd that I when went looking for it in book form and was unable to find it. Eventually I found a second hand copy and was hooked… I have loved your writing ever since.

  2. Alan Morgan says:

    I found this years back in a remaindered book store. Quite a find as I didn’t even know it existed. Mind you in the pre-internet days (well, me anyway) that sort of thing was often the case. Full Dark House was a surprise in a proper bookshop. Rune even further back in the lovely second hand shop in Streatham (‘Oh, it’s another book by that Roofworld bloke. Jolly good!’).

    And let’s not worry about the cover that made straight men more intriguing to interesting women, should they be reading it in the pub. So y’know, ta for that.

    It’s a great book that I read a long time before a mate put Fight Club on to show me. Calabash. Psychoville, and Spanky are all stories that I’ve lent to people. Although not Calabash now since my copy is signed and you can’t let things like that go walkies. And the others too because these things aren’t always easy to replace.

  3. Helen Martin says:

    My copy of Spanky has a translucent cover over the photo, the title being printed on that cover. I think it’s great but those skin tight whatever they were must have been extremely uncomfortable.

  4. Wayne says:

    @Helen, Would that be a Hardcover copy? Or USA edition? Or Both. Sounds like a rare thing I have only ever seen it in soft cover like the one pictured on this Blog.

    I found this book in an Oxfam shop years ago and got some raised eyebrows when I went to pay, the counter staff not knowing what the subject matter was. Like Alan I just thought ‘Oh, it’s another book by that Roofworld bloke. Jolly good!’. I like the cover personally, but can guess what the tour was like for Admin….

  5. Helen Martin says:

    It’s a paperback copy, Wayne, and UK. The title is placed higher so the chest is covered and the bottom of the letters come just past the top of those stockings(?)

Comments are closed.