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Craig Brown writes humorous articles for many papers and magazines in Britain, and this collections presents the best of his work over the last few years. Nobody in the public eye avoids becoming a victim of his satirical wit, and it is only when reading this collection you realise quite how broad is Brown's range of targets. For me, the highlights are Brown's debunking of the art establishment, which continually bombards us with exhibitions of pickled cows and unmade beds. Brown is a master of identifying the "Emperor has no clothes" syndrome and his writing brings clarity to so many half formed thoughts of one's own.
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on 15 January 2011
As other reviews have made clear, at its best, this book is comic writing at the very highest level. For me some of it doesn't quite hit the target but when it does, and it does frequently, it is a joy and some of the descriptions and paraody will stay with me for a long time. However, I would highly recommend this more as a book as one to dip into rather than read right through at one go.
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on 19 July 2009
Intelligent old fashioned comic writing is a rarity these days. If you just know Brown from the Private Eye spoofs, you've been missing half the fun. Fans of the Rory Bremner / Brown radio show will love this book.
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on 13 June 2003
I can't believe it takes a mawkish scribbler on an island off Seattle to be the *first* to pay homage to this unbeatable collection of wit, satire, and hilarious razor jobs by this finest of writer-parodistas.
Lord knows how they faced the decision over what to leave out of Brown's incomparable writings: just choosing the best of Bel Littlejohn or Wallace Arnold must have been agony.
To paraphrase Brown's own description of the much-missed Bron Waugh: Brown has the prose/parodist's equivalent of perfect pitch.
Speaking of the fragrant Ms Littlejohn, no greater tribute can I pay than to say that my American girlfriends read her absolutely straightfaced and agog and turn exceedingly boot-faced at my
boorish sexist suggestions of any trace of a spoof.
Brown is the consummate mocker by holding a mirror up to his 'victims' I wonder just how many of them actually realise they've been so roundly decapitated: Mohamed Fayed, that whole
Amis-Pinter-Parkinson coterie, the Emin grotesquerie and, of course, Nick Serota who is scalpeled bang to rights.
It's such a relief to read a major talent like this and know that the mantle of folks like Waugh, Bonfiglioli and Miles Kington is safely draped across sturdy and younger shoulders.
Nor is this volume just a bundle of laughs: Brown has the verbal firepower and courage to wax serious more often than the publishers will have you believe. The book is worth the price alone for a noble piece on grief, as well as stirring tributes to Auberon Waugh, Alan Bennett, Mark Boxer, Peter Cook and other well chosen heros of that stature.
Read it, too, for the pieces that fall in between, those not intended to have one chuckling but which tap a grimmer, personal nerve. To mention just two, Brown's slam at blabbermouth book
jacket blurbistas, and a wistful imagined correspondence between JMW Turner and a serotan minion that will give art lovers everywhere food for vengeful thought.
First-rate stuff. Unbeatable. I just wish - like that cola jingle - I could fix *everyone* up with a copy, to bring a little humour into our lives and let aspiring scribblers see how it's actually done. It used to be Marmite I'd urge visiting Brits to bring me from Blighty; now it's fresh supplies of this heart-warming volume. Bravo, Mr Brown.
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on 23 January 2013
I always read Craig Brown in the Daily Mail, and absolutely love everything he writes. This purchase was a gift for Christmas,
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on 6 May 2003
As for readings aloud, keep the book well away from dinner soirées at least til the port and nuts. The whole table will be snatching it back and forth, guffawing with good-natured malice, and certainly putting paid to your own flashing bon-mots (not to mention milady’s soufflé).
What a bargain! Over 100 crème-de-la-crème examples of the funniest and wittiest journalism over the years. To paraphrase Brown himself on the sainted Bron Waugh: he has the parodist's equivalent of perfect pitch.
I wouldn't like to provoke Brown's ire, but then again, do Brown's 'subjects' actually 'get it'? Can they spot the skilled razor job performed on them: Mohamed Fayed; Martin Amis; de Bono; Who's Who; Deborah 'the Brummie side of Medea' Warner; that whole wrinklies scene of Simon Dee/Tony Blackburn/Esther; Parkie and Posh. And as for modern 'significant' artists and the entire Emin grotesquerie, he gets them and Nick Serota absolutely bang to rights.
There isn't a dull or graceless sentence, and the section on "Heroes" is thoughtful moving stuff - shrewd assessments setting the record straight on Peter Cook, Mark Boxer, Edward Lear, Alan Bennett, and others. Let me also pay homage to a singularly moving piece on grief and Brown's late father-in-law, himself no slouch with the elegant phrase.
A book hard to over-praise: like that Coke advert, I just wish I could buy everyone their own copy as a reminder to us all of how it's actually done.
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on 19 September 2012
Some good stuff but a bit sparse . I enjoyed re reading and re visiting the 90s with the benefit of hindsight but some of the pieces were laboured and not that humorous. My disappointment was probably because I expected better as I enjoy his satire and ability to prick pomposity.
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on 14 May 2003
My preferred care package from the UK used to be Marmite and decently chunky marmalade; lately it's been fresh supplies of this very funny collection of articles by one of the wittiest writers around. If you only read this opening para, I beg you: do you and yours a favour and lose no time buying a copy. Endless amusement, the perfect savvy gift, and ideal loo reading (except it'll keep getting nicked).
To paraphrase Brown's own description of much-missed Bron Waugh: Brown has the prose/parodist's equivalent of perfect pitch.
I actually don't know why my copies keep being filched: Brown's subjects and humour are totally lost on most of my pals in this Seattle backwater. But go they do, inevitably followed a few days later by smug quotings right back at me. Speaking of which, on no account have TICB lying around at dinner parties, unless you want the soufflé to sink and your own quips to go unheeded as the book is passed around with loud shrieks of unseemly laughter.
All the favourites are here: ebullient Wallace Arnold, the political snipings; darling Bel Littlejohn (who all my American girlfriends read agog as gospel and accuse me of boorish sexism at the very mention of mickey-take or spoof).
I used to thank my lucky stars that Brown had never fastened his sights on *me*, but now I wonder if *any* of his 'subjects' ever actually 'get' it: Martin Amis, Mohamed Fayed, all those divine wrinklies in the JY-Esther-Simon Dee-Tony Blackburn stable; old humour-void Parky - all deliciously captured. And of course, an hilarious working over of that whole Emin grotesquerie down to Nick Serota who Brown gets absolutely stone cold bang to rights.
First-rate stuff. Unbeatable. Like that cola jingle, I wish I could buy *everyone* a copy and bring a little humour into all our lives. Good for aspiring scribblers, too: let the no-hopers down with a gentle giggle and treat those with any talent with a view of how it's actually done. Bravo, Mr Brown.
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on 25 October 2011
Disappointing and strangely dated. Some gems but not as many as I was expecting. Quiet smiles rather than guffaws throughout.
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on 17 July 2014
Not as funny as I expected. Alan Coren is still King!
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