The Book of Nasty is a charming little tale, an esoteric comedy set in renaissance France in 1466. By 1466 the European world had attained a level of complexity and sophistication that was quite simply beyond the scope of good and evil to accommodate. The church had been shoving good and evil down everybody’s throats for centuries and people had simply become bored with the pair of them. A more subtle shade of emotional hue was required to lure the continuing evolution of human consciousness out of the dark ages. The Book of Nasty documents the birth of the spirits of nasty and his female counterpart, nice and their subsequent impact on the course of human history
The storyline is primarily concerned with the fate of four peasants who are drafted into the military service of their Duke. They are trained as pikemen before being marched off to fight meaningless battles, whose only purpose is to test some strategies devised by the Duke’s son, Pierre who is attending military college in Paris.
During the military manoeuvres, all four peasants are killed and die horrible deaths in the mud. One of them, due to certain actions he performs during the course of battle, is elevated to the rank of the first nasty saint. His demise on the battlefield (a broadside of five cannons aimed directly at him – he was canonised in a way that makes most religious martyrs look like hypochondriacs by comparison) renders him incapable of performing his allotted esoteric function as the representative of white nasty. The result is that the consummation of the age of nasty is presided over solely by the forces of black nasty embodied by the drill-sergeant, an avatar of black nasty (I won’t complicate this by any mention of the role played by a certain gerbil named Chester) and Evette, the last fairy God-mother.
The Book of Nasty is the literary equivalent of a car accident. It is not designed to make anybody ‘feel good’. It re-writes the entire course of human history as the defeat of the forces of nice, emphasising the role of the banks, multi-national corporations and golf courses. It points out that history is not nice and nor is the resultant present with little hope of much improvement in the future.
Of course it is!