Buick, Julian Cope & Jayne Mansfield

Cars Culture

strange cultural convergence via a '66 Rivera

The other day, we picked up a copy of Julian Cope’s debut Novel 131.

If you’ve never heard of the freakoid musical visionary and former frontman of postpunk combo ‘The Teardrop Explodes’, Julian Cope (below) strides like the proverbial colossus across pop culture these last couple of decades – and he pushes his reach a little further with this hilarious, riotous first novel. The book loosely follows a classic picaresque formula, the numeric title referring to the highway that snakes like a psychedelic serpent up the spine of Sardinia (excuse the accidental sibilance, Julian would NOT approve).

Cope has shape shifted, alright. Image via the Quietus

But the unspoken star of Cope’s mentalist hooligan roadshow is the vehicle that takes him on his journey. And in a neat piece of cultural cross-referencing, the yacht-like, tuck’n’rolled ’66 Buick Rivera is exactly the make, model and year of motor in which platinum blonde starlet Jayne Mansfield lost her life.

Annex - Mansfield, Jayne (Kiss Them for Me)_01

Or it may not be. Dig around the webs and you can find all sorts of connotations and contradictions on exactly what motor Mansfield died in – and the gruesome reality of how she actually shuffled off.

Contrary to the mythos of Mansfield’s demise, she was not decapitated apparently – but whatever. Novels like Cope’s perform a true, powerful function of dynamic literature. It creates, destroys and perverts myths, tropes, clichés and contrivances – and at the same time adds a gorgeous, mind-expanding cocktail to the canon of rock-star literature.

Dig it. Buy it.

Read a hilarious interview with Julian Cope by Giggle-Broker Stewart Lee here.