Only Lovers Left Alive - Dave Wallis (Pan, 1964). I found this for 50p in a London used bookshop. Out of general hopelessness and boredom, England's adults start doing themselves in. Her Majesty's government tries to stop it, via punitive estate seizures and counseling centers, before giving up and handing out Easyway pills for the remainder. Against this backdrop, the Seely Street gang, led by Ernie, Charlie, Kathy, Estelle & Robert--all generic, except for Charlie, who seems to be a Mod--enjoy their freedom for awhile before getting down to the business of survival.

The Seely St. gang get along by foraging and avoiding the bigger gang. As their local supplies are depleted, the gang are forced to move on, trading tinned food and for petrol and spare parts. Some gangs, particularly the Kings, holed up in Windsor Castle, are worse than others. The Seely St. gang find themselves moving ever northward, picking up animal husbandry skills as they go along. The story is bleak, but ends in on a hopeful note, in Scotland.

Wallis's prose is spare and gets the job done. It reminds me of the movie "The War Game," also from that time, in its matter-of-factness. It doesn't lend itself to glorification of exploitation like, say, "Wild In The Streets." The Rolling Stones announced in May of '66 that they wanted to make a movie of it. THAT would have been interesting. Maybe then the Beatles would have gone ahead with Joe Orton's "Up Against It." Echoes of the book have turned up here and there in the secret histories. The British Situationists reviewed it in '66 in their journal Heatwave #1, as chronicled by Not Bored!). This isn't surprising, as "Only Lovers" was years ahead of teen-scene exploitation novels like "Suedehead" and "Leather Boys," or the plagiarizations of Stewart Home. Why didn't Greil Marcus see this one?

Stiv Bators, post-Dead Boys, pre-Lords of the New Church, took the title for an album he and ex-members of Sham69 (The Wanderers) recorded in 1981.

In April of 1998, Grant Morrison used it as the title of issue 2/14 of The Invisibles. It's got nothing really to do with the action in the series or that issue, which has the gang resting up in New Orleans after a raid that results in some deprogramming. I suppose Morrison just wanted to point his fans to another piece of the teen-revolt/proto-Situationist canon (er...). It worked for me--I saw the book and must have subconsciously remembered the title from somewhere.

So what?