Ian ‘Snowy’ Snowball and Pete McKenna
The Last Black Angel (New Haven Publishing)
Set predominantly in New York, The Last Black Angel is a novel that swings seamlessly from 1965 to 1977 time and time again. Based on the exploits of ex Londoner Suzi and her streetwise American friend Patti, who first meet in 1965 as Suzi arrives in Greenwich Village New York’s bohemian area. Patti takes something of a shine to Suzi which results in firstly Suzi being taken under Patti’s wing, secondly Suzi being accepted by and subsequently joining a female group of friends collectively known at the time as The Chelsea Girls. Nothing, of course, to do with the English, West London football team or the English chain of boutiques of the same name.
Their name came from where they often hung out together, the slightly seedy, albeit hip and cool Chelsea Hotel in New York. Collectively the Chelsea Girls had another name bestowed on them, by one of the band members of Fallen Spears, The Black Angels. Scene-sters with groupie-esque tendencies and a taste for enjoying life to the maximum would be a reasonable overview of The Chelsea Girls/The Black Angels. The parts of this book set in 1977 recall the New York art-punk scene of that era, including the legendary live music venue CBGB. Jacket notes by former sticksman of The Jam, Rick Buckler, confirm that Snowy and Pete accurately capture the sense, spirit and even the smells of New York’s underground art-punk scene circa 1977. Retrospective short dips back to 1965 help paint the picture of what’s going down, and even at times why, in the fastmoving, at times slightly grubby fictional novel. If cult fiction set during a specific time or period appeals, The Last Black Angel is going to be another absolute must read.