Top critical review
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Expected better of Elton
on 10 January 2003
I've just finished this book, and found myself wondering if an editor ever got to see it, before the publisher pushed it out. I agree with another reviewer, I found Elton's use of phonetic spelling for regional accents overdone, uneccessary, distracting and condescending. Elton has vast writing experience, so I wonder how he gets away with such amataeurish style. I grew up in the UK, so the 'voices' are spot on, but this approach only makes you re-read passages to pick up what's being said, and that's annoying, when you just want to get on with the story.
This is the first of his books I've read, but I'm very familiar with his work, all the way back to the early 80's when he did 'Right on' left wing stand up. It seems when he's free of writing collaboration - as in Blackadder - his lack of subtlety is still evident. Elton has always been a soapboxer with a jackhammer, and this novel felt it was preaching heavily in places, and with a fairly condescending tone.
That aside, he has the essence of odius, hypocritical politicians and journalists nailed, and a sometimes funny insight to the heaven and hell of fame and ego - from both a political and rock star perspective. I'll take bets on Tommy Hansen being a composite of Robbie Williams and Liam Gallagher - Elton even references them as Tommy's rivals (Tommy's 'ego has landed' and he wants 'All my people, right here, right now') just so we don't miss it.
I still found myself caring about certain characters and needing to know the outcome of the story, it was well woven together. So while flawed in areas, he kept me reading to the end.