John Crace writes a column for The Guardian newspaper called Digested Reads, in which he attempts to satirise recently published books.
Perhaps we should feel honoured that the egotistical Crace has deigned to turn his attention to William Gibson's Spook Country, but, what he tries to pass off as satire, just comes across as nasty peevishness.
The idea of rewriting a book in the style of the author in just 500 or so words is a gift to any satirist, and it remains the only outlet in the print media where publishers' hype always gets treated with the irreverence it deserves.
The basic premise for the Digested Read is that it should be the book that has created the most media noise that week
You could argue that I read the books slightly differently from everyone else because my antennae are honed towards clunky plot devices that don't work, pretentious stylistic tics, and a complete absence of ideas. But I have to invent almost nothing. The author does the work for me.
Note the words "in the print media", as if that is somehow sacred.
It is perfectly laudable to try to puncture with satire, the spin and hype emitted by the commercial publishing industry. To do this effectively in a short newspaper column would take a writer of genius.
Unfortunately John Crace is not actually funny or witty or observant in his attempted satire. This is evident not only from his feeble effort aimed at Spook Country, but in his previous columns as well.
Padding out a 500 word column with selected quotes, interspersed with a few snarky comments, and getting paid for it by The Guardian, seems to be a cushy job.
If anyone could be bothered, it would be easy enough to create a John Crace Digested Reads simulation perl script, that would churn out such columns semi-automatically, when fed a few quotations.
Spook Country by William Gibson
Tuesday August 14, 2007