Friday, June 12, 2009



Clive James’s occasional descents into self-parody can mask just how good an essayist he is.  Admittedly, writing a review of an official Soviet biography of Leonid Brezhnev (by The Institute of Marxism-Leninism, CPSU Central Committee no less) is shooting at an open goal to some extent, but this is a fabulous review:

Here is a book so dull that a whirling dervish could read himself to sleep with it. If you were to recite even a single page in the open air, birds would fall out of the sky and dogs drop dead.

Monumental progress in probing the outer limits of tedium has been made by the time the hypnotised reader has slogged through more than two hundred pages of ideological prose at its most glutinous. Unable to believe that the Institute could keep down the pace, I read the whole thing from start to finish, waiting for the inevitable slip-up which would result in a living sentence. It never happened. That the book could be read from any other motive seems highly unlikely. Even the most rabid Brezhnev fan would be catatonic by the end of the first chapter.

Cracking stuff…


Blogger Falco said...

I'm currently reading his wanderings through western culture, "Cultural Amnesia". Well worth getting.

7:15 pm  

Post a comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home