Tooth and Claw

Share this

A couple of years ago, a friend of mine returned from the Cannes Film Festival. She had some news.

‘You’ve inspired a movie,’ she told me.

‘What?’

‘An article you wrote has inspired a movie.’

The explanation was a little more mundane than I might have hoped. So I wasn’t the hottest new femme fatale, muse of movie directors and darling of Hollywood moguls. I disguised fading excitement with a cunning faux-yawn. ‘What movie was that then?’

‘It’s about a serial killer.’ She must have seen my face fall. ‘It won a prize,’ she consoled.

Later that summer I went to meet the director. I had prepared myself for an encounter with a bit of an oddball. But Jaime Rosales – a quiet 33- year-old from Barcelona – wasn’t at all what I had expected. And nor was his film. Forget dead family cats and oddly stocked fridges. Nothing much happened except a dinner party and the occasional random, off camera killing. What had inspired Rosales, it turned out, was a review I had written of a book that, the last time I went out to buy it, was shelved in the ‘Biology’ section of the shop.

It could equally well have been shelved under ‘Philosophy’ or ‘Drama’ or ‘Thrillers’. The Red Hourglass, a debut volume by a writer called Gordon Grice, explores a fundamental premise.

‘We want the world to be an ordered room,’ its author writes, ‘but in the corner there hangs an untidy web.’ Within lurks ‘an irreducible mystery, a motiveless evil in Nature’. This was the idea that had captured the imagination of the movie director. And that was the idea that had trapped me, too, the first time I came across the book. I had picked it up from a literary editor’s review pile and started to leaf, distractedly, through it. Half an hour later, I was sitting on the floor, transfixed.

Grice has written seven essays on the lives of predatory creatures – mostly creepy crawly ones,

Subscribe or sign in to read the full article

The full version of this article is only available to subscribers to Slightly Foxed: The Real Reader’s Quarterly. To continue reading, please sign in or take out a subscription to the quarterly magazine for yourself or as a gift for a fellow booklover. Both gift givers and gift recipients receive access to the full online archive of articles along with many other benefits, such as preferential prices for all books and goods in our online shop and offers from a number of like-minded organizations. Find out more on our subscriptions page.

Subscribe now or

About the contributor

Rachel Campbell-Johnston is the art and poetry critic for The Times.

Share this

Comments & Reviews

Leave a comment

Customise this page for easy reading

Distraction-free
reading mode