What is "Metaliterature"? It is literature about literature, in this case, views, reviews, and thoughts provoked by stuff I've read. I'm hoping this might be a chronicle of the brain of a life-long reader as guided by intertextual coincidence. If you like what you read, read what I like.
Currently domiciled in the Vale of Glamorgan.
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
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
Exhibit A - gratuitous self-promotion
What happened to high brow? Where are the literary giants
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
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 AChild 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
* For “someone
to recommend…” please infer “plotting intellectual theft”
“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.