annoyed by books

In general my reading life is a richly satisfying one. Between my e-reader and my membership of one of the world’s great city libraries. I have more excellent books at my fingertips than I can ever read. It’s churlish of me to complain about having begun three this week that irked me. Nevertheless!

The first was told by an early hominid who was acutely aware of her sloping brow, hairy feet and other differences from Homo sapiens, much as female characters written by misogynists are always breasting boobily down the stairs. The third was nominally about a saintly college gardener, but actually about the author who hired him and who was such a raging snob that he managed to make everyone appearing in the book, from the gardener to his own six year old daughter, seem repulsive. A feat that would be hard to do if you were trying! Which he wasn’t.

Second’s the worst though, because the book itself is fine and the audiobook performer is great… as long as he isn’t trying to do the accents. Every American, from Whitman to Emerson to Merrill, has a Texan drawl. Rousseau sounds like Peter Seller’s Inspector Clouseau. I don’t know what Wittgenstein’s supposed to be but it isn’t Austrian.

And it turns out the only thing worse than taking Bruce Chatwin’s Songlines at face value is making Chatwin himself, born in Sheffield, sound like Crocodile Dundee. Excuse me while I walk into the sea.

Leave a Reply

Comments are closed.