Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Wrong Book

A few years ago, lying by a hotel pool in Spain, I suddenly realised everybody around me was German. This struck me as embarrassing because my holiday reading on this occasion was Primo Levi's Auschwitz memoir If This Is a Man. I was holding the book high to shield my eyes from the sun. The Germans were thus having their precious downtime spoiled by a rather gross reminder of their guilt. Here in Miami I find myself once again reading The Wrong Book. I won't tell you what it is because I am writing about it but, suffice to say, it is hardback, very fat and possessed of an unusually depressing title. This, to say the least, clashes with the local style of 'movies and laughter, sex and fun' (Ashbery, The Skaters). I was sitting, immersed in this very good book, at a very trendy bar at which everybody was preparing to have life-changing sex with everybody else. The barman stared at me in dismay and then at the book.
'How long it take you to read a book like dat?'
'Er, about a week.'
He shook his head in wonder.
'I never read a book.'
'You should.'
But why should he? Life, for him, seemed good.


  1. The book must surely be "Miami Beach: Chicks with Dicks" (line from a Cornershop song).

    i usually advise people not to read if possible. It's done me good which means it will almost certainly be bad for everyone else.

  2. It's not a review copy of The Scourging Angel: The Black Death in the British Isles by Benedict Gummer
    (Publication Date: 4 Jun 2009) is it?

  3. New labour book of lies, spin and smear 1997-2010

  4. Rather hoping that in Miami you could have gone commando and arranged your own book Carl Hiaasen stylee, perhaps involving a stolen Dodge Coupe, a one-legged transvestite and a sackful of contraband parakeets belonging to a sanitaryware tycoon with psychotic leanings. Oh well, back to the Black Death by the sound of it. Except in Miami I'll bet it's not black. From Black Death to Red Death in the space of a single martini, perhaps.

  5. Show a man a book
    and his eyes will glaze over.

    Teach a kid to read
    and he'll become a writer.

    It happens a lot.

  6. You are reading "War and Peace," the Pevear translation.... Everyone else around you is reading "Hip-hop and Bling," so you feel like an alien. S'okay. You've always managed to stay one step ahead of aliens and death....All will be well.

  7. If This Is a Man... that's some grim holiday reading, dude.

  8. ..Is the book 'Charles Hawtrey: The Man Who Was Private Widdle'?

    That's always been my favourite book title

  9. It's probably 'Tara-Palmer Tomkinson: This is Your Life!'
    Now that's a depressing title...

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  11. it is hardback, very fat and possessed of an unusually depressing title. This, to say the least, clashes with the local style of 'movies and laughter, sex and fun'.

    Hmm, I can't decide whether to vote for Koba the Dread or The Koran.

  12. I was going to say Roots by Alex Haley; fits the bill except that its not a depressing title. Excellent book though.

  13. I know this isn't game but, 'Last of the Mohicans?'

  14. Actually it was my own three volume novel Golgotha: A Tryptichal Vision of Humanity at the Crossroads.