Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sunday Recommendations

What is the point of having a blog if you're not going to make recommendations? There is none. The enterprise is pointless if you're not selling something. So today I am commencing what I hope will be a regular feature: Sunday Recommendations. Future installments will include comic clips, poetry, film, music, videos, web-sites, hygiene tips, general household instructions, and other daily bric-a-brac, probably of a disturbingly erotic nature - I won't include "NSFW" warnings because none of my extensive readership worries about what their bosses or co-workers think about them.

Today's first Sunday Recommendation is for a book. Having been instructed last year to acquaint myself with Evelyn Waugh, I dashed through Decline and Fall, Vile Bodies, Scoop, Put Out More Flags and Black Mischief. A funnier, more deftly-written collection of books is hard to imagine. I managed to intersperse a few non-Waugh novels in between to keep my attention from flagging, finally getting to Auster's New York Trilogy, amongst others. But really, however good the other novels have been, this has been Waugh's year.

Based on a very welcome fluff piece in the Guardian about great books nobody has read, I decided to purchase a few non-Waugh titles, limiting myself to ones from the New York Review of Books Classic imprint (because a few years ago I had such luck with the lovely, charming, hilarious The Tenants of Moonbloom).

After finishing Black Mischief, which I hope I will come to at some point in this blog, I turned to something that I thought would be entirely different: Darcy O'Brien's A Way of Life, Like Any Other.

I recommend you read it.

It's like J.D. Salinger meets Philip Roth, written by a man who was like Norman Mailer meets Your-everyday-Irish-Literature-scholar-teaching-at-Tulsa-whose-parents-happened-to-be-Stars-of-Early-Hollywood-whose-luck-turned. What struck me was that here was a twentieth-century prose-stylist and a humourist whose work was in no way lessened by coming after five of the most stylish, funniest books in twentieth century literature.

If you are interested in early Hollywood stars, if you are interested in mid-twentieth century American adolescence (which is the heritage I'm certain all of my readership shares and so has some interest in), if you love a book that feels like it needed to be written but the need in no way overshadowed the elegance and charm with which it was written, if you love very funny and very sad books, I recommend you read it.

You're welcome.

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