September 11, 2015 | Posted by Lesley Jakobsen | ART, Comedic Books, Fiction, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

Bruegel the Elder, Winter Landscape with skaters and bird trap

(by Michael Frayn) What would you do if you were certain that you had discovered a work of art not so much lost as mythical? A painting beyond value which is being used by rich rural idiots to block the fireplace.  Horrible, unhinged, feckless Martin Clay makes that decision instantaneously in Michael Frayn’s Headlong.  and then dithers about it until the reader wants to cry.  This is a marvellous, unusual and comic book with some weaknesses – for one, the reader will  learn more than s/he need ever know about Breugels both with and without “h”s, elder and younger and the bitter relationship between the Netherlands…

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(by Ian McEwan) An amusing novel, in which the somewhat clunky cogs of plot are lubricated with humorous observations about the commercialisation of the Religion of Climate Change, the dopier aspects of feminism, sloth, urban myths, modern travel, class and scientific research. Unfortunately the oil fails the mechanism at the end, at which point it grinds to a rather noisy and unlikely meltdown. Worth reading but…I realised partway through that I had in fact read it before and could barely remember it.

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The Book Show

 Summer 2014, Ultimo TVC loves this show, although the initial set was a shameless rip off of “Hidden”.  A great argument for the national broadcaster, although surely the Fry-B-C could muck along for a few millions less?  We attended a taping some time back (incognito) and thus got stalker-close to Ms Byrne, Ms Hardy and Mr Steger plus guest. Jennifer Byrne is the perfect host – charming, open-minded, enthusiastic (but no pushover – she does generally not abide shite).  Marieke Hardy is P’s favourite, hardiest critic – she and P may share few opinions overall, but when she hates something,…

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A Likely Story

(by Donald E. Westlake) (1984) Very funny tale of hack writer (of “The Pink Garage Gang”, “Coral Sea”, “Golf Courses of America”, etc.) trying to get up a Christmas Book with contributions from various real celebrities that respond with a mixture of indifference, misunderstanding or hideous enthusiasm, while contending with a mother-obsessed editor (‘I’m fine…I’m peachy. Destroyed at f****** lunch with a writer.  Home a basket case.’)  

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Sweet Dreams

(by Michael Frayn) Highly original and amusing satire of a bespoke heaven for boyish, middle management men of early middle age and their moral crises as the right hands of god.  You can see the influence cast by this book on, for example, Douglas Adams. The chaps, all from Cambridge naturally, are no longer scholars but creators, and they have an easy, breezy, Ian Fleming style way with women and imagine themselves to be radicals, even the lukewarm Head Man, in that smug, cosy, implacable bourgeois way, a la J. P. Sartre.  The heavenly staples – taramasalata, gigot aux haricots…

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