Saturday, July 30, 2005

Late Adopter

I've always been the sort of person who Misses Fads. For example, I got my first Duran Duran poster in 1985, after the band had split up and when everyone else was raving about Morten from A-Ha. Not only this, but I'm pretty sure my poster was of Andy Taylor, rather than Simon le Bon or John Taylor. How much more wrong could I have got it?

Next, witness the fact that I remain only dimly aware of the so-called Su Doku phenomenon that appears to have gripped the rest of the nation. Putting numbers in little squares is the kind of thing I might be made to do in my version of Hell. But give me three years and I'll no doubt come round to it.

And then recently I dropped into the late-adopter section of the popular fiction uptake curve and bought a book by the Dan Brown of cosy teatime literature, Alexander McCall Smith.

Now I love trashy novels as much as anyone (anyone who loves trashy novels as much as I do, at any rate) but Good Lord, this one is fucking awful.

I resent this book on three counts:

1. There's nothing worse than a trash novel with pretensions. Mentioning Immanuel Kant on every other page doesn't make your writing any more profound.

2. There's nothing worse than a trash novel that takes a supercilious moral stance. I read this stuff for escapism, not to be assailed with self-righteous, ill thought-out and inconsistent moral pronouncements.

3. There's nothing worse than trash novelists who show off how clever they think they are by creating an "intellectual" character whom other characters think is clever. For example, at one point the protagonist refers to people as being quick or dead, while another character admires her use of the word "quick" in this context. Look mate, there's nothing remotely clever about that, just as there isn't anything remotely clever about mentioning Plato on every other page.

And this is, of course, why I've never attempted to write a novel myself.

16 comments:

cello said...

Yes, someone gave me an Alexander McCall Smith novel the other day; The No 1 Ladies' Detective thingy.

I didn't like the look of it at all, so I gave it to someone else. Lucky escape.

Su Doku isn't about numbers at all. It's about patterns really. And I've let myself get hooked, as I did with Tetris. It will pass, as all my obsessions do eventually. *Sigh*

patroclus said...

You did have a lucky escape, cello. And in my seething anger I forgot to point out that this book, like the bleeding Da Vinci Code, has a protagonist who is supposedly clever but who is clearly rubbish at solving even the easiest of cryptic crossword clues.

In fact I may write a little monograph on the subject of Fictional Characters Who Are Supposedly Good At Puzzles And Stuff But Who Are In Fact Rubbish At Them. Any further nominations will be gratefully received.

cello said...

Sherlock Holmes. All the bleeding time. It must have been the opium.

patroclus said...

Ooh, now now. I won't have a word said against the mighty Sherlock. Still the greatest fictional detective ever. I always thought his tipple was morphine, but James reckons it was cocaine. Must re-read. These things are important. Well actually, they aren't really, are they?

Sparkling said...

I think you will find James is right. Sherlocks tipple was the stuff you smoke.

patroclus said...

Hello Sparkling, and welcome! I've checked with this exhaustive entry in Wikipedia and you and James are indeed correct.

Fizzy good said...

I seem to have overcome my So Duko problem since going to Croatia.

Fizzy good said...

And why did the nice people need to know that, Liz?

They didn't, did they? You're just talking bollocks again.

Wyndham said...

Totally, agree with you on every count. Except. Nearly every lady I know, and we're talking, what, at least 12, all seem to think Andy Taylor was the sexiest one in Duran Duran. And they came to this conclusion apparently independently. Although there's another Taylor in DD, isn't there, so I could be wrong. Sorry.

Wyndham said...

And it was cocaine, I think. Although I have an irrational attachment to Colombo. Is that wrong? Being telly, and all.

patroclus said...

Hmm, Wyndham. Unless your lady friends all display uniformly awful taste (which I very much doubt), I expect you'll find that their Duran Duran totty of choice was actually Roger Taylor, the drummer (or should that read "drummer"?), rather than the be-mulleted, gnome-like Andy. Oh dear.

Wyndham said...

Oh dear, you could be right. Wasn't there a John in there somewhere as well?

patroclus said...

Yes, there was. He was famous for shaving his legs, having a bigger coke habit than Sherlock Holmes and sporting the most lavish hairstyle in pop. Tosser.

Herge Smith said...

Mind you, as great as Holmes was at working out tricky cases he never made anything as magnificent as 'Girls on Film'.

So there you go.

DD:1 Holmes:0.

Sorted.

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