What could be better than Burgess on literally everything? Pun most definitely intended! Almost 200 selected essays on the famous and the arcane, Burgess opines on books sent for his review by The Times Literary Supplement, the New York Times, and the Observer between 1978 and 1985, and, to the reader's delight, he invariably relates tales about the writers themselves, taking aim at sacred cows, shattering myths and pulverizing clay idols but not without deifying the immortal and creating legends along the way. Delving into dictionaries, linguistic tomes, music compendiums, biographies, Oxford Books of you name of it, scholastic works, popular novels, acclaimed works, collections, anthologies - he profiles it all with huge chunks of personal glimpses into his own life and times. He chronicles works by and about Joyce, Shakespeare, Dr. Johnson, Dickens, Orwell, Waugh, Wells, Stendahl, Austin, Boswell, Fielding, Fiedler, Plath, Lawrence, Golding, Goldman, Conrad, Capote, de Beauvoir, Greene, Greer, O'Hara, Richardson, Janeway, Steinbeck, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Friedan, "the great Virginia herself," Stein, Wagner, Beethoven, Weill, Sullivan, Elgar - getting too specialized for you? Try "Garping", on John Irving, "Dorogoi Bunny, Dear Volodya..." on the Nabokov-Wilson Letters, "Anal Magic" on Mailer, "The Magus of Mallorca" on Graves, "Thurbing" on Thurber, "Hem Not Writing Good" on Hemingway, "Celtic Sacrifice" on Wilde. Large doses of his wry, dry, erudite, phenomenal self on fiction, prose, poetry, language, religion, art, fashion, film, food, politics, travel, theater, astrology - reviews of books on vices and dirty jokes even! There is a wealth of references throughout to other writings, critiques, essays, events and locations. For light fare on weighty subjects, try "Grunts from a Sexist Pig" wherein he was sent a pink marzipan pig, the dubious reward for being voted (along with Mailer, Fiedler, Lowell, Malamud and Beckett) a Sexist Pig of the Year, a result of his feud with Virago Press over their choice of name: "Now all my dictionaries tell me that a virago is a noisy, violent, ill-tempered woman, a scold or a shrew. There is, true, an archaic meaning which makes a virago a kind of amazon... .But the etymology insists on a derivation from Latin...and no amount of semantic twisting can force the word into a meaning which denotes intrinsic female virtues... . I think it was a silly piece of naming, and it damages what is a brave and valuable venture." Or my personal favorite, "Telejesus (or Mediachrist)", the story of how he came to write the screenplay for "Man of Nazareth.": "The ball was slammed into my court, and there was a long silence while I got down to work. This meant loading my typewriter and the New Testament into my motor caravan and setting off for the Alps. ...Wherever I went with my caravan, typewriter and Greek Testament, I was hounded by the religious experts of Radiotelevisione Italiana...with requests, orders, ultimata. They pursued me from Rome to Ansedonia to Siena to Bracciano to Rome, telling me what to write. "Write it yourselves, for Christ's sake,' I said reverently. `No, no, you're the writer. Now write this.' One remarkable suggestion was that Jesus, in formulating the Lord's Prayer, should stumble over the word padre, stuttering papa papa in involuntary homage to His Holiness. I pointed out that in English this would have been fafa fafa, which is a homage to nobody. Theological advisers were ten a penny,...I said I would trade them all for an adviser in carpentry." Open this book to any page, you will never fail to be entertained, enlightened, uplifted. Keep it by your bedside, in your bookbag, briefcase or backpack, take it to work and take it on holiday, but don't let it out of your sight! Unbelievably, this book is out of print! Too, too many of Burgess' books are out of print. How could the publishing world let this happen? Search the shelves, exhaust the Net, move mountains, whatever you have to do, but get yourself a copy of this treasure - it is not to be missed! The only thing that could surpass Homage to Qwert Yuiop (have you figured it out yet?) would be a companion volume spanning 1986 to 1993. What, one wonders, was left out of this edition? What is still out there unpublished?