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53 of 54 people found the following review helpful
On the fence
on 28 December 2011
Overall a pretty entertaining read, Work! Consume! Die, has three recurring sections:
firstly there are surreal short stories apparently based on the author's life. These are very inventive, satirical, and dark. They generally paint a portrait of the writer as a drug-addled, envious, celebrity-hating sociopath. I'd like to see Frankie Boyle write more short stories based on these samples.
Then there are sections where the Boyle gives seemingly straightforward criticisms of aspects of society, and how people kid themselves.. I find these sections extremely refreshing, both in their honesty, and in their harsh indictment of the consumer based culture we have. Boyle has the gift of being funny even whilst he is preaching from the pulpit. These were my favourite parts of the book, but also, sadly, the shortest.
The majority of the book, and the one that I expect will play to Boyle's largest fanbase, are the long sections of risque jokes about celebrities and politics and so on. Pretty much typical stand up routine stuff, about how fat James Corden is, or how Jordan has fake breasts, just a bit riskier jokes. I understand that parts of W!C!D! are culled from the author's Sun columns. I haven't read these columns, but I am guessing that these are those parts. The gags are pretty funny, and even if you don't like a few, they come so thick and fast, that there's bound to be a funnier one coming up in a few sentences time.
The uneasy feeling that I got from all this was the contradiction between the parts of the book. Frankie Boyle obviously sees himself as the heir to Bill Hicks and Lenny Bruce: a comedian who tells it like it is about our sick, celebrity obsessed culture. The problem is that Frankie Boyle comes across as more celebrity-obsessed than anyone, since all his jokes are about D-list celebrities. It could be an ironic stance, but I suspect it is more about paying the bills. I understand his justification for doing Sun columns is that he is sugaring the pill so he can spread his message to a wider audience. Based on what's on offer here, it's all sugar, and no pill. Interestingly, at this point in his career, Frankie Boyle is stuck on the fence between taking cash from the Sun for saying daringly rude things about celebrities we love to hate, and making interesting and truly subversive comments about our culture. He could go either way. I, for one, hope that he forsakes some of the fast money and drops the celebrity bashing in favour of his more interesting stuff. After all, in twenty years time, nobody is going to know who James Corden or Katie Price are, but people will still listen to Bill Hicks recordings.