Top positive review
At the feet of a Master
12 February 2012
I am glad I read this testament to hard core Englishness*. It made me laugh out loud - something I just don't do very often unfortunately. I have actually known people like Robert Purcell - the narrator** - they do exist in varying degrees, hanging on to their repressions and puritanical snobbiness. Buckingham Palace garden parties are crawling with their wannabees, and, it must be said, the creamy excellence of high English culture and its parasitic hangers on is most seductive, even though we know it's just hollow and brittle. What saves Robert and his manipulative self serving strategies from total dismissal as a robotic archetype are his brilliant surreal flashes and commentaries on twenty first century twaddle. The world outside his own internal construction is mad, corrupt, illogical, and intolerable. It is only his own inflexible worldview that saves him from falling into the abyss of the Untermensch. He would probably have made quite a good Nazi. Mostly I sympathized with his fundamentalism - look around you - such drivel and tat everywhere. Robert just never learned to do the compromise things, play the silly games.
The book does flag a bit in the middle with some irrelevant comedic diversions - it could have been a little shorter - that would have elevated it to the status of National Treasure. Why do i keep thinking of Swift, Dickens, Oscar Wilde, Thomas Sterne, it's just so well assembled and crafted. I wonder if it's filmable, I hope so - it certainly adapted well on the Radio 4 version.
*This is such a superb piece of writing at every level. Any comments here are just trivial. Everything has been said on the flap already.
**None of this tells you much about the story, but there you are