Archive for the ‘Great Wall of China’ Category

I haven’t had much time for blogging this week because I have been reviewing books. Yes chaps I am a book reviewer – well – I’ve reviewed one or two probably not very well and not very accurately because I did drop one of them in the bath and the pages stuck together but there you are. I can now say that I have joined the ranks [tatty fringes] of serious journalism. Of course it would help if I could write in terse, well-crafted, precise sentences instead of waffling on for ages and then flitting off on tangents as soon as the fancy takes me. I notice that if you were to read any of my wordy constructions aloud you would probably die of asphyxia long before you got to the end. I should write thrillers – all beginning “It was a dark and stormy night” and go on for six pages without pausing for breath. Of course there was a time when short sentences were anathema – [now there’s a new word for the day] and were frowned upon especially by those of the legal profession who were paid by the word. That’s why your lease is forty-five pages long and dotted with hithertos and theretofores like currants in a figgy pudding. Plus it makes the author appear more substantial and formidably erudite the more words s/he uses even though s/he probably has no more idea than I do about what the hell s/he’s driveling on about. And as an aside if you want to appear to be the final authority on some topic or other it also helps if you can sprinkle your text liberally with quotations from Virgil or the Bible – using the original Latin Vulgate of course – or perhaps include a few pithy Bon Motes in Arcadian French.

But I digress – where was I? Oh yes – reviewing books. I enjoyed a couple of them – in fact one or two were a really interesting read i.e. Gordon Ramsay’s recent autobiographical offering: “Roasting in Hell’s Kitchen” – which goes quite some way to explaining just why he loses his temper so often and uses swear words as punctuation and hates his dad and has a low sperm count [standing in front of hot stoves all day – be warned] but then I ran into a veritable Great Wall of China of a book, which as you know was built to keep out invaders – and obviously book reviewers as well. I could not get through it with a steam shovel – or possibly a conquering horde of Mongolian Marauders. So now I’m on the horns of a dilemma [there’s those dilemma horns again]. The work is self-published – what was once called a ‘Vanity Press’ production – and before you give us the old French shoulder shrug and sneer at this, I believe Honore de Balzac [also known as Honorary Ballsack amongst the uncouth classes] availed himself of the Vanity Press of his day – although I could be making that up – my memory for Farcical French potboilers is somewhat hazy.

Anyway – what to do about a really bad book? Do I slam it to the ground and jump up and down on the authors literary day-dreams or do I try and be politically correct – sort of like being the Paula Abdul of the book reviewing world – and say something along the lines of “this book was written entirely to the author’s own personal standards of satisfaction and was no doubt enjoyed by not only him but all of his friends and relatives too – and by the way I liked his picture on the back”, or do I go off on a Gordon Ramsay and declaim that he writes about as well as my old aunt Sally who is chained to a wall down at the local looney bin and thinks she’s the Shah of Iran? If there are any ‘real’ reviewers out there perhaps they would be kind enough to share some insights with me. In the meantime I have found a suitable use for what I like to call the ‘Doorstopper’ book – it’s quite good for resting your coffee cup on while you read about Jamie Oliver roasting his wienies over a slow fire [he evidently likes to cook in the nude – I never realized that his TV show the “Naked Chef” meant precisely that].


Read Full Post »