Colin Wilson

Only Half Cock

Crazy Cock

By Henry Miller

HarperCollins 240pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

Henry Miller will probably be remembered as the only major writer of the twentieth century who had absolutely nothing to say. He wrote as a compulsive talker talks: because he liked the sound of his own voice. As far as Miller was concerned, it didn’t matter what he said. What he enjoyed was fixing the reader with his glittering eye, and rambling on like the Ancient Mariner.

Anyone who fails to understand this will be completely bewildered by Crazy Cock, the earliest of Miller’s novels to be published so far. Lost for more than half a century, it was eventually found in a collection of Miller manuscripts at the University of California and published in America to celebrate the centenary of Miller’s birth in 1991. In her introduction, Miller’s biographer Mary Dearborn describes it as ‘remarkably self-sufficient as a novel, requiring very little emendation’. But Crazy Cock is not a novel. It is a raw chunk of autobiography, slapped down on paper in a style describing him as a ‘debased version of the man reminiscent of the Lawrence of Aaron’s Rod and Kangaroo – whose influence is obvious and all-pervasive.

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