book cover of Clark Gifford\'s Body

Clark Gifford's Body

A novel by

Back in Print After Fifty Years

“I have not developed the habit of reading thrillers, but I have read enough of them to know that from now on Mr. Fearing is my man.” - The New Yorker

Is there such a thing as political noir? The Manchurian Candidate might qualify. So might some of the novels of Don DeLillo. But the precursor to them all is perhaps this next-to-unknown 1942 novel by the maverick master Kenneth Fearing, best known for his ingenious tale of detection, The Big Clock.

Fearing's title echoes that great anthem of the dispossessed, John Brown's Body. But Clark Gifford is no John Brown. He is a disaffected politician in a nameless but thoroughly familiar media-driven modern state where representative politics has dwindled to the corrupt transaction of business as usual and a foreign war is always breaking out on the horizon. One night Gifford and some of his followers seize radio stations to broadcast a call for freedom. Nobody pays attention except the government. The troops quickly suppress the uprising and capture its leader - yet the rebellion will lead to twenty years of war.

Fearing's novel skips freely through those years, interspersing newspaper clippings and court transcripts with the reactions and reminiscences of the politicians, generals, businessmen, journalists, waiters, and soldiers who double as the actors and the chorus in a drama over which, finally, they have no control. Who here is leading? Who is being led? Fearing creates a pseudo-documentary of a world given over to pseudo-politics and pseudo-events, and all the more deadly for that. In such a world, a world far closer to the one we live in now than that of Orwell's 1984, what counts is not the truth but the story that's on record. Because in the end, as Fearing says, “the story alone is the true thing.”

Out of print for over fifty years, Clark Gifford's Body is a prophetic glimpse of the future as a poisonous fog.

Genre: Literary Fiction

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Used availability for Kenneth Fearing's Clark Gifford's Body

Paperback Editions

October 2006 : USA Paperback

Title: Clark Gifford's Body (New York Review Books Classics)
Author(s): Kenneth Fearing
ISBN: 1-59017-182-9 / 978-1-59017-182-0 (USA edition)
Publisher: NYRB Classics
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA