Top positive review
32 people found this helpful
on 25 October 2009
I asked for this book in the Picadilly branch of Waterstones, 'That's by Lewis Roger' said the pretty sales assistant. An apposite anecdote given the bile contained within this book. Lewis Roger is a grub street journalist trying to make a living when grub street has collapsed and instead of living in London schmoozing with literary types he is washed up in the 'Herefordshire Balkans'.
This short book is a seriously funny account of his life, his complaints, and his erstwhile desire for recognition. Following a much misunderstood, much maligned biography of Anthony Burgess (10 copies sold in the last year of counting), Lewis bewails just about every successful recent British writer/celeb. Delightfully in various ways, he lays into Clive James - a writer of 'mouldy fudge', Andrew Roberts (a baboon), Ned Sherrin, Simon Cowell, Julian Barnes (and his late wife Pat Kavanagh), Jeremy Clarkson, 'sad mother' Julie Myerson and best of all, Harold Pinter (obit) 'what a dreadful clanking beast he was'. Heaven knows how he got this past the libel lawyers. I for one am delighted he did.
Interspersed with this literary bile are delightful snippets of his life as a marooned intellectual in the provinces. He cuts out articles from the local paper and offers snippets of local life: 'Age Concern has introduced a Toe Nail Cutting Scheme in the Community Centre run by "our trained volunteers", and tells filthy jokes picked up from Barry Cryer.
Also in these diaries are laments at his health (he is fat and has fat person's ailments), his kids, his class (he was a butcher's son and feels the London establishment looks down on him accordingly), his lack of money, his envy at other people's money (such as Gyles Brandreth and the late Alan Coren) and his continual snubbing by his publisher's literary parties (which he doesn't want to attend anyway).
Frustrated at being born in a time when the commercial imperative is everything in publishing (true, I used to work as one), and the weak collapse of the educated elites as they pump out more Jordan and Jamie Oliver, Lewis fancies himself as a contemporary, neglected version of his hero Anthony Burgess: a man of voracious intellectual appetites, though sadly without anyone to appreciate it. In the end, Suicide Notes is more like a contemporary Diary of a Nobody (extracted from in the epigram).
Some people predict this book to become a cult classic and I certainly hope it does, as this book is one of the funniest I have read. I think Lewis is due a break, just so pretty Waterstone's assistants will know his name. I think he would like that.