Skip to main content

A Fucked Up Life In Books by Anonymous

 Download BookCunt's
autobiography
Perhaps this decline in ethical fortitude was inevitable; succumbing first to e-pub books on my new corporate-approved, bookshop-workforce-eviscerating Kindle, and then reviewing free (or near free) books published by people what I have done met on that there Twitter.

So much for principles, eh?

Take this book, called, accurately if somewhat tastelessly, A Fucked Up Life In Books; I’ve been mooching around book blogs for someone to recommend something great to read* for a number of years and have had my eye on this particular one, full of lip-chewing vulgarity and salt-of-the-earth honesty (if it is to be believed) for a time as a welcome resource of refreshing invective for those days where poncing about feigning airs and graces makes the sick rise up into my mouth. I found her on social media, and have quietly enjoyed her time line and blogging style for a few months. Then through complete accident** I found BookCunt had written a book, published by an old Waterstonesian colleague Scott Pack and his The Friday Project crew – serendipitous destiny without question. 

Taking the Metaliterature creed to mean I can read things I find cruising the Internet when I’m bored, I immediately downloaded her book, told her all about it and entered into a foul-mouthed exchange with her so that she and her legions of admirers would know what a cultured and also uncouth chap I really am.

Exhibit A - gratuitous self-promotion


What happened to high brow? Where are the literary giants like Eco, and, er, um, ahem, the others?  Truth be told, contrary to my opening paragraph about the decline in standards, I’ve just realised that I don’t half read a load of old tosh. In the pantheon of great literary achievement, I suspect that John D. MacDonald and Marshall Karp weren’t even the people who washed the grapes before they were peeled for the Bacchanalia.

So much for a narrative conceit, eh?

“I can’t be fucking arsed with your blog shit” a good friend once said to me, “because you say fuck all about books and just go on and on about yourself. I get enough of that when you’re drunk as a bastard.” I like to remember this when I get two pages into a review and have yet to mention the book.

So much for a review, eh?

Back to “Anonymous” and her rather entertaining and revelatory review columns. In truth, books play almost no part in her story, other than to provide a chapter heading and give us all an insight into how well-read (or otherwise – book snobs get short thrift and often, so maybe you chaps give this one a miss, yeah?) she is. That she actively seeks time to squirrel herself away and read is rather endearing, and evokes nostalgia for my idealised youth (veracity notwithstanding) where I would often have my head in an Ed McBain or Stephen Donaldson whilst eating, watching TV or in the toilet. That books preface some horrifying tales of parental neglect and emotional abuse is slightly unpleasant for me as a bibliophile, but even the most flippant and facetious arse will appreciate the emotional attachments, the ghosts of memory that haunt the pages of some of our favourite or even least favourite books. But equal to the horror are the moments of balance, wherein her father features prominently, and her brother also (if we politely disregard the time she bounced his head off a brick wall), where beautiful people make life that little bit more tolerable. In fact, one such beautiful person looked to be aiming at a sun setting over the horizon happily-ever-after until, in what was to me the most wrenching trauma, he fucks off and makes it all smell rotten again. That is, of course, until she finds The Big Green Bookshop

I am a notorious if inadvertent MCP when it comes to books I choose to read, preferring the rants of male psychotics to any others (famous felines such as the Tomcat Murr notwithstanding), but I would probably burn someone’s bra (is that still a thing?) to get everyone to give this book a chance to impress. She’s not just about swearing and rage (although there’s lots of that in there) and her honesty is dazzling. Being cribbed from blog posts, I’d read quite a bit previously, so was probably ahead of the game, but when collected into a pseudo-narrative and competently proof-read****, it forms a genuinely readable, persuasively emotional chronicle of the life of someone who just wants to find a comfy chair, a good book, and, I infer, someone who quietly and patiently attends on her for tea & fags and provides a sympathetic  ear-hole into which she can rant. In fact, in retrospect, I can still clearly recollect several key moments where I completely ignored my wife’s pleas for help with the boy / screams of pain and carried on reading regardless, such was the spell I was under.

So much for being a cold-blooded sacred-cow slayer, eh?

To finish – the conclusion / sales pitch. If you want a book to read that has lots of swearing, especially by a “lady” then this is for you. If you want a book about books, no matter how tenuous the link may be, this is for you. If you want A Child Called It-style misery memoir to make yourself feel better about your shitty little life, this is for you. And lastly, if you want genuine, honest, hilarious stories about modern life, then I cannot praise BookCunt highly enough. And it’s only fucking £2.99*****! Bargain!


*   For “someone to recommend…” please infer “plotting intellectual theft”
**   Whilst “accidentally” reading*** Caroline Smailes’ own book-type blog
***   Please refer to note *
****   Competently, but not professionally – there were quite a few errors that slipped the net – but these are The Friday Project’s problem, not the authors’
*****   Price may be subject to change because Amazon are bastards.

Comments

How's about that then?

Selected Holiday Reading - The In-Betweeners Abroad

I always try to travel light, a goal, something with which those among you with bookish leanings will empathise, that is challenging for someone intending to do as much reading as they can whilst ignoring as much culture and scenery as is possible. So huzzah and indeed hurrah for the generic e-book reader and its market competitors. Ten years ago I would likely have suffered a paroxysm of disgust for any apologist of the hated technology. Now, it seems, I must take one everywhere I go for more than one night.



The trip to which I am coming, an August sojourn by ferry to Santander and then by VW through Calabria, the Basque country, and north through Aquitaine, Poitou-Charente, Pays de la Loire and Bretagne, was a chance to get some serious reading under the belt. Twelve days of driving, drinking, books and beaches. The only 'real' books that made the trip were The Vagabond's Breakfast, of which more anon, and All The Days And Nights which, as I was on a deadline, I quickly …

Under The Dust by Jordi Coca

So, wheel of fortune, count to 29, pin the tail, freebies off of peeps on Twitter etc. etc. Whatever the methods sometimes employed to pick the next book in my intertextual experience, the one that brought me to Jordi Coca brought me to a whopping great slice of nostalgia. Before I'd even opened it, it brought to mind Richard Gwyn, himself a published poet, author, biographer, translator and course director of the MA Creative Writing course at Cardiff University, who I recall for some odd reason gently encouraging me to read this novel, and by whose own work I was quietly impressed at the time. He was also an advocate of Roberto Bolaño, another writer in whose work I can immerse myself but from which I emerge drained, as mentioned previously. Before that, though, there is this sticker on the front, declaring 'Signed by the Author at Waterstone's'. It is indeed signed by Jordi Coca, not adding any particular intrinsic value to the book, not for me anyway, but more impor…

The One from the Other by Philip Kerr

Philip Kerr is an author I have been reluctant to attempt to review for some time. His Berlin Noir trilogy cost me some hours of sleeplessness and in the end I decided to skip a review and just be happy to have read it and therefore move it from the pile of unread novels, via the edge of my desk where the “to review” pile occasionally falls over on to the typewriter and spills my pen pot across the floor and thus causes significant risks when stumbling blindly about the room at night too drunk to remember where my bed is or having just been jolted awake by the boy shrieking from the next room and running asleep into walls and doors, to the back half of my giant Ikea bookcase where novels that have been read and have caused my self-esteem to shatter on the diamond-hard edges of someone else’s talent currently reside, gathering dust and moisture until hitting the mildew tipping point and becoming physically dangerous in their own right. This awesome crew consists mainly of Will Self, Jo…

Hannah Green And Her Unfeasibly Mundane Existence by Michael Marshall Smith

I was sold this book by Simon at the Big Green Bookshop in return for the money it cost plus a small donation towards operating costs and postage. 

In truth, I'd forgotten it was on its way, and it was a fucking lovely surprise when it arrived at my desk in work, my letterbox at the time being a tad short on width and breadth and unlikely to admit a hardback plus packaging. I recall very much enjoying reading Michael Marshall Smith, and I also enjoyed re-reading him, recently, and I documented this here, here and here. This was a book for which I hadn't realised I'd been waiting for a long time. 

However, had I not the history and warm, cosy feelings safely tucked up in the nostalgia bank, I would probably not have picked this up, going solely on the cover. There's a clock, the silhouette of a small girl, and leaves, along with a colour contrast and meandering font which brought to mind something cringe-worthily reminiscent of Alexander McCall-Smith*, or the covers of Sc…