Review Index


By KEN RUSSELL (AuthorHouse; 2005)

The second or third novel by one of the movies’ foremost wild men, who was never in more outrageous form. Despite being in his late seventies(!) when VIOLATION was written, Ken Russell lends the proceedings a feisty and energetic dose of black humored perversion, as is evident in an early passage in which the heroine, one Jette Black, gets her asshole severely mauled by a mechanical sex doll gone haywire.

     Jette is a policewoman in a future Britain where football (or, as we Americans call it, soccer) has become the national religion, and nonbelievers are exiled to a massive Penal Colony that was once the Isle of Wight. Jette winds up there herself after being caught with a fugitive, a magically-endowed preacher who resembles “a battered star from a 60’s rock opera” and calls himself Jeez.

     Jeez is introduced in the prologue, set in the year 2000, when a UFO appears over Britain and an infant is snatched from a hospital by a young woman claiming to be the baby’s mother--despite the fact that she’s a virgin. As an adult Jeez attains the power to alter reality in all sorts of cool ways, including turning back time. He appears in various guises, always in time to help Jette out of various scrapes--including curing her of the above-mentioned asshole mauling--and in the process amasses a small band of disciples. Clearly the similarities to another, much older account of a prophet at odds with authorities are entirely intentional, right down to the bleak ending. But, this being a Ken Russell creation, there’s a nutty final twist involving an act of necrophilia.

     Other delicacies contained in these pages include torture, cannibalism, giant bugs, shape shifting, sodomy and shit eating. Russell doesn’t tame his wild side, which probably explains why VIOLATION was shunned by mainstream publishers--well, that and the fact that it’s sloppily written. Ken Russell was not a novelist by trade, as is clear in the half-baked descriptions and wobbly narrative herein.

     Yet Russell’s prose contains a distinct voice and attitude. A streak of wise-assed, often lowbrow comedy runs through the book, evident in the copious fart jokes, profane language and lines like “Jette had that sinking feeling she hadn’t experienced since sitting through a reissue of THE TITANIC.” The frequent references to film (at one point Jette thinks “I’m beginning to feel like I’m in an old David Cronenberg movie”) and famous composers complete the idiosyncratic effect of a novel that, whatever else it may be, is pure Ken Russell through and through.