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About the book
  • Published: 15 February 2017
  • ISBN: 9780099584445
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 432
  • RRP: $24.99

Jumpin' Jack Flash

David Litvinoff and the Rock’n’Roll Underworld




A fascinating quest for one of London’s legendary characters

'REVELATORY' - DAILY TELEGRAPH *****
'FASCINATING' - OBSERVER
'ENGROSSING' - DAILY MAIL

'You’ll worry at your hunger to keep on reading, but you won’t be able to stop' - GUARDIAN, Book of the Year

David Litvinoff was one of the great mythic characters of ‘60s London.

Flitting between the worlds of music, art and crime, he exerted a hidden influence that helped create the Krays twins’ legend, connected the Rolling Stones with London’s dark side, shaped the plot of classic film Performance – and saw him immortalised in a portrait by Lucian Freud.

Litvinoff’s determination to live without trace means that his life has always eluded biographers, until now. Intent on unravelling the enigma of Litvinoff, Keiron Pim conducted 100 interviews over five years, speaking to Eric Clapton and Marianne Faithfull, James Fox and ‘Mad’ Frankie Fraser. The result is an extraordinary feat of research that traces a rogue’s progress amongst aristocrats, gangsters and rock stars.

  • Pub date: 15 February 2017
  • ISBN: 9780099584445
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 432
  • RRP: $24.99

About the Author

Keiron Pim

As a small boy in the early 1980s nothing seemed more exciting to Keiron Pim than a visit to the Natural History Museum, where he would gaze up at the Diplodocus skeleton and later depart clutching some little dinosaur-related memento: a pencil rubber shaped like Stegosaurus, a lurid poster of a Jurassic scene, or a book crammed with dino-facts. It would have blown his four-year-old mind to know that thirty years later at book on dinosaurs would be his first publication. Keiron is a writer and journalist based in Norfolk, England. Married with three young daughters, he is writing a biography of David Litvinoff for Jonathan Cape.

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Praise for Jumpin' Jack Flash

“You’ll worry at your hunger to keep on reading, but you won’t be able to stop.”

Guardian, Book of the Year

“The rock'n'roll legend of David Litvinoff is given its definitive account. A considerable work of detection and human sympathy unpicking old myths and making them new.”

Iain Sinclair

“This surely has the most startling beginning of any biography to be published this year… Vivid, engrossing… Pim gives an all too graphic picture of the seedy 1950s… He is compassionate and humane at every moment. His prose is always careful and stylish.”

Richard Davenport-Hines, Guardian

“Blending pop culture, social history and interviews with raddled survivors, Pim reconstructs every scene in Litvinoff’s twisted history… Jumpin’ Jack Flash provides the missing piece of Swinging London’s social jigsaw.”

Dominic Green, Literary Review

“Blending pop culture, social history and interviews with raddled survivors, Pim reconstructs every scene in Litvinoff’s twisted history… Jumpin’ Jack Flash provides the missing piece of Swinging London’s social jigsaw.”

Dominic Green, Literary Review

“Fascinating biography… Pim has a thorough knowledge of his subject and his milieu and is painstaking in his research… Against the odds, Keiron Pim has written a very good book about a very bad man.”

David Collard, Times Literary Supplement

“A captivating and prodigiously well-researched account of that legendary 1960s London sub-world where criminality and bohemianism met head-on.”

D. J. Taylor

“Pim’s account of this extraordinary character is a magisterial work of scholarship.”

Colin MacCabe, New Statesman

“Revelatory... The impressive list of character references in this extraordinary book gives some indication of just how singular a creature [David Litvinoff] was, and the mind-boggling diversity of the worlds in which he moved.”

Mick Brown, Daily Telegraph

“Keiron Pim has grafted long and hard to separate the facts from the heady fictions… Pim does a great job of bringing the era and some of its most colourful characters to life.”

Chris Maume, Independent

“Litvinoff was a shape-shifter whose story...offers a window into a secret side of the 60s.”

Jon Savage, Guardian

“Keiron Pim's Jumping Jack Flash is an outstanding study of a remarkable, but until now wholly elusive figure. Meticulously researched and elegantly written, Pim's work is the first to bring us the story of David Litvinoff, that real-life Zelig of post-war British bohemia. And via the magnesium flare of his subject's story, Pim illumines the multifaceted world through which he moved: East End gangsters, Chelsea aristos, Soho artists and Notting Hill hippies. Litvinoff, for so long the missing piece of so many cultural jigsaws, finally gets a story of his own and it's even more bizarre than one might have hoped. This will be an indispensable read for anyone who appreciates that mad, alluring, myth-filled world.”

Jonathon Green, author of 'Days in the Life: Voices from the English Underground'

“Assembled with skill and serious legwork... Jumpin' Jack Flash brings a familiar period of cultural history into sharp new relief.”

Financial Times

“Keiron Pim’s Jumping Jack Flash is a kaleidoscopic ride through the acid-fields of Fities and Sixties London in search of David Litvinoff, a brilliant, desolate, unforgettable yet hard-to-focus gay Jewish grifter. Ironic stereotype and rebel at once, Litvinoff chars the car-crash societies he moves through. Mick Jagger, Lucian Freud and the Kray twins flash past in the throng, all sustained by drugs, sex, art, film and a great deal of rock'n’roll. Litvinoff is dazzling. Pim’s pilgrimage is appropriately and meticulously dazzled.”

George Szirtes

“Pim is a skilful and erudite writer.”

Clive Davis, The Times

“Pim has set out to write the definitive biography of a man who was the very definition of an unreliable narrator… Fascinating.”

Andrew Anthony, Observer

“A tour-de-force of biography, a beautifully written account of a compelling but often repulsive man. It’s hard to imagine anyone getting closer to the truth than Keiron.”

Eastern Daily Press

“Intricate, engrossing book.”

Anthony Quinn, Mail on Sunday

“Keiron Pim has done a marvellous job of bringing to light a character so outlandish that he reads like a fictional conflation of every colourful star from that swinging decade… Pim tells his story - piecing together the fragments to build a myth - quite brilliantly.”

Paul Lester, Jewish Chronicle

“Pim has written not just an engrossing account of a character who flitted easily between the underground and underworld of Swinging London, but also one of the best books I’ve ever read about the period… A compelling portrait of the dark side of the Sixties.”

Choice Magazine

“Pim proves an intelligent…guide to this protean world, mixing a Quest for Corvo model with Iain Sinclair’s psycho-geography.”

Andrew Lycett, Spectator

“A darkly humorous biography.”

Ian Thomson, Tablet

“Pim’s remarkable book pulls from the shadows the story of a man who did his best to leave no trace.”

Will Hodkinson, The Times, Book of the Year

“Pim’s remarkable book pulls from the shadows the story of a man who did his best to leave no trace.”

Will Hodkinson, The Times, Book of the Year

“Vibrant, colourful, revealing, often violent and one of the most absorbing biographies in a long time.”

Alastair Mabbott, The Herald

“This book is written extremely well, descriptively astute throughout, with a few pictures to help the reader better understand the narrative. The author has achieved a remarkable book, which others have tried to write in the past and failed. It is an altogether fascinating treatise on a little remembered man, who’s star burned bright, mainly in the 1960s, but carried resonance wherever and whenever he went.”

Reg Seward, Nudge


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