Customer Review

16 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Too clever to be too clever by half?, 16 Sep 2009
This review is from: Filthy English (Paperback)
I wanted to enjoy this book because I enjoyed the series Meades presented on TV a few years ago, where he bent his coruscating wit to the deflation and/or praise of modern art and architecture. The wit is very much in evidence and the coruscation proceeds apace in this collection of short stories. However, there is an air in some of the stories of a show-off high on his principles as the English language in particular takes a fair old snobbish bashing. In other stories he gets the tone much closer to right and displays a wonderful range of skills and craft in fictional perspicacity.

He is brilliant at atmosphere, particularly good at settings in recent history (wartime, the 1950s and 60s) and good at delineating characters in a few words. With a few delightful phrases he can create images that burn in the mind or make a phrase that is worthy of his undoubted wit (`...truncated trunks in trunks...' to describe a set of suitcase murders, for instance).

Is he "Too clever to be too clever by half" - as one of his characters says of another? Perhaps, but he is also savagely funny - the narrative of an Alsatian dog in the world of porno films springs to mind.

I would like to read a novel by him, where the format need not be so crowded, and the storytelling has room to breathe. He is undoubtedly a brilliant man, but is he a brilliant writer? Maybe not on this showing, but he could be.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 23 Jul 2014 16:28:31 BDT
This Reviewer has a tenuous grasp of how to construct a sentence (or a paragraph). She criticises Meades for allegedly "showing off" but what she clearly resents is his ability to write elegantly and fluently in a manner she will never be able to. It is stuffed with clunky inclusions of cliched words/phrases she inserts in order to impress but which she clearly does not understand: when has "coruscating wit" ever admitted its willingness to being bent ?

As for her desire to read a novel by him, what is stopping her ? He has already done so.

I strongly suspect she is a product of our world-class edukashun system. We await, with rapidly bluing lips, her Great Novel Of The Twenty-First Century.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Jul 2014 13:02:53 BDT
Eileen Shaw says:
I don't in the least resent Meades' fluent wit. I admire him. I freely admit I could never equal his brilliance. What on earth prompted this virulent and angry riposte? My review praises him in many areas of his work. I don't "resent his ability to write elegantly and fluently" I give him four stars, hardly the act of someone resentful. Your oh-so-clever but utterly dismissive and hurtful attack on me for my opinions is beneath you. What makes you happy Mr Diggins? A snide attack on my level of education?
"As for her desire to read a novel by him, what is stopping her ? He has already done so."
Hardly the epitome of good grammar is it?
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Location: Leeds, England

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