After Ian Fleming‘s death in 1964, Richard Chopping published – on Angus Wilson’s recommendation – The Fly. This flits between an office’s variously embroiled staff, including widowed caretaker Mrs Macklin, “a woman of warthog sensibility” whose feckless elder children consider, at the outset, inflating an abandoned condom near a pixie-hatted sibling. “Tears squeeze out of the eyes and return as quickly to the system by way of dirty runnels down the cheeks into the gasping mouth.”
The script was edited by Chopping and his publisher during one champagne-fuelled weekend at the latter’s flat, with the publisher observing Chopping as “a most fastidious person with flaring nostrils and an apparently hairless body, revolted by the detritus, the muckiness of everyday life, hence presumably his preference for plants”.
Utilizing his talents for depicting insects, Chopping painted a memorable cover of a fly—in close-up-that has landed on a human eye. No words appear. Flies also buzz about the covers of “The Man With The Golden Gun” and “Octopussy.”
Chopping’s fetid and lonely urban scene finds no succour with retreat to a country-house zoo. Apes attend to their “hindquarters which, red-ripe, exuded moisture like the split sides of some monstrous tropical fruit”. Glorious stuff, its sexually charged, pacey, well-balanced sentences are not without human sympathy.
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”Its story of a London office workers, whose lives are strangely witnessed by a common house fly, was deemed by its editor as “sufficiently sordid to appeal to voyeurs, and if Chopping were to adorn it with one of his famous dust jackets it could be a succès de scandale; and so it proved” (Independent).
‘To a Dragon Fly’ by Richard Chopping