If you put four dwarfs in one room with enough opium and alcohol, it's bound to end in tears...
In 1935 MGM studios embarked on a movie adaptation of L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The production called for the casting of many dwarfs to play the Munchkins of the mythical Land of Oz and the studio began recruiting 'small persons' from all over the world.
During production, rumours spread around Hollywood of wild Munchkin sex orgies, drunken behavior and general dwarf debauchery. More sinisterly, a Munchkin is said to have committed suicide by hanging himself on the set during filming - what appears to be a small human body is clearly visible hanging from a tree in the Tin Man scene. It is a claim that has passed into Hollywood legend.
Set in a hotel room in Culver City, California, Babylon Heights is Irvine Welsh and Dean Cavanagh's scabrous and hilarious imagining of what could, very possibly, have led to that dwarf suicide.
Babylon Heights premiered at the Exit Theatre, San Francisco, in June 2006.
There's no mistaking the allegorical intent. The message here is that we're all, in a sense, little people oppressed by those in power - and so it's no wonder that we get our kicks whenever and wherever we can
Welsh writes with a skill, wit and compassion that amounts to genius. He is the best thing that has happened to British writing for decades
Charles and Di, Blur vs. Oasis, mobile phones or dial tones... the Nineties were a cultural and technological melting pot. Here, from J. K. Rowling to Jonathan Coe, Ben Okri to Helen Fielding, are some of the authors who best captured the decade in words.
This May we celebrate outsiders: the people on the fringes; those who go against the grain.