Monday, June 6, 2016

The Little People (John Christopher, 1966)

Far from the "pure terror" promised in its full title and even farther from this blog's usual crime stuff but The Little People deserves an honorary post for its crazy cover. Nazi Leprechaun exploitation! The very moment I saw this illustration in some on-line article (which I cannot find now, goddamn) I went on eBay and scored me a copy. I just love being seduced by such preposterous artwork!

It had been sitting on my "pretty high priority" bookshelf waiting for the right moment and I finally decided to check it out for this year's St Patrick Day. Seemed appropriate for the obvious reasons. Also Paddy's day is a national holiday here in Ireland meaning we have a work-free day which it looked like I'm gonna need as this thing has 200+ pages of pretty small print...

At the end it took me more than two weeks to finally get through it:) I don't normally read two fiction books at the same time but in this case I think I put it down twice to read something lighter and then resumed with The Little People. Turned out that those 200+ pages (remember - of pretty small print!) don't contain much dialogue and that the whole thing is written in that semi-archaic English language that can be very difficult to follow for a non-native speaker. And the fact that there's no "pure terror" in it didn't make things easier.

Not saying it's bad at all, it's just not my cup of tea. The premise is interesting ( a group of people finds these pathetic little creatures) and pretty sad (nazi experiments...) with some interesting ideas thrown in  (like how to preserve their human rights) but everything takes ages to start and complete. There are pages and pages of semi-philosophical crap intertwined with way too much personal/family shit to keep the reader focused. At least this reader.

2/5

Facts:

Hero
"Mary, the maid, says she's seen the little people near house."
Hanni said, "The little people? I do not understand that."
"It's an old legend in Ireland," Bridget said. "About this race of tiny men and women who can do magic. Mostly they're invisible, but occasionaly people can catch a glimpse of them. Some people."
"In Germany, also," Stefan said. Hanni still looked puzzled, and he turned to her, explaining. "Die Kobolde. Verstehst du?"
"Ah, yes." She nodded. "They do wicked things."

Location:
Bridget asked, "The Castle?"
"Well, it's not exactly a castle, though it's called Killabeg Castle and it has some of the old ruins still..."
Daniel Said, "Do you know it?"
"... It lies in a wild part of Mayo. There's no town within twenty miles, and the nearest railway is more than thirty."

Funny enough, there seems to be a place called Killabeg House in Ireland but it is located in county Wexford, not Mayo.

Body count:  /

Dames:
Little Greta + little people's blonde, dark-eyed leader: "triumph of beauty in miniature".

Should also probably mention Bridget since she and her fiancee Daniel are the main non-little protagonists. But in a typically English conservative tradition we just learn about her secretarial qualities:

For one thing, she had, as a secretary (not to him, but to Joe Grayson, one of the other partners), that rare intelligent competence which would enable her to tackle any situation with a probability of success.

Blackouts: /

Title: 
They were wearing green costumes, like Greta, These, in the artificial light, the spotlight surrounded by blackness, gave the scene a harsh Disney-like unreality - the cinema's ultimate 3-D achievement after all the fumblings with Cinemascope and Cinerama and the rest. Who in God's name could have dreamed up that one?

Edition:  
Avon #2243, first printing, August 1968

Cover
see  'Hero' and 'Title' sections. Illustration credited to Hector Garrido.

Notable cover blurbs: 
"Carefully laid-on horror." - The New York Times

Cool lines: /

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