Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Lord Gnome's Literary Companion - by Lezah

I just recently finished reading a hilarious book of literary criticism entitled 'Lord Gnome's Literary Companion' (edited by Francis Wheen).  In the introduction, Wheen says this about the articles in this book, which were originally published in 'Private Eye':

        The whole point of the 'Literary Review' page is that there are no sacred cows, no inhibitions, no special favours, no treacly euphemisms.  Messy work, but someone's got to do it.  (p. 8)

With chapter titles such as 'Reviewers:  The sound of one hand back-scratching', 'Bestsellers:  A million readers can't be wrong - can they?', and 'Poetry:  Verse than you think', this holds nothing back.  No one is safe.  From Dick Francis ("Dick Francis occupies an important place in English letters.  He is the favorite writer of people who hate reading") to Ian McEwan ("Ian McEwan's novels... are generic.  ... The cover is excellent."), from Jean M. Auel ("Look at the book review pages and you'd think that publishing revolves around long-awaited translations from the Czech and the previously uncollected essays of Isaiah Berlin and V. S. Pritchett.  It don't.  Publishing's about trash like this.") to Roald Dahl ("In gratitude for the heaps of money he has made them, publishers have been pulling out the publicity stops for the 70th birthday and 26th book of Roald Dahl.  Like some monstrous Merlin, kept alive by bees' jelly, the gaunt old misanthrope has peered at us from full page ads, colour supplements and TV screens.  Perhaps he will never die."), this book spares no one.  

All I have to say is, thank God I'm not a writer!  I couldn't bear to read stuff like that about what I'd written.

But I sure do love to read it...

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