I Have a Bream - John O'Farrell
Isn't it always the way? You wait ages for one purple flour-filled condom and then three come along at once.
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Review of "I Have a Bream - John O'Farrell"
musician, scribbler, historian, gnostic, seeker of enlightenment, asker of the wrong questions, delver into the lost archives, fugitive from the law of averages, thinker of deep thoughts, quantum spanner, zenarchist. People have woken up to worse.
As a scriptwriter and satirist, John O Farrell has been involved in some ground breaking British shows, not least as a scriptwriter for Spitting Image and Have I Got News For You. Later as a novelist he attained critical acclaim for a string of often darkly humorous, socially poignant books, but it is in his columns for The Guardian, of which this book is the third instalment , that I feel his best work is found.Humour is generally about a concise build up and swift pay-off and column writing is all about a limited word count so the two blend well as a literary form, but it is rarely done well, certainly not as wonderfully well as this. A bit like my other favourite of the snappy, kitchen sink column, Caitlin Moran, O’Farrell is the master of blending the humdrum minutiae of normal life with global concerns, it is all very well getting out there and engaging in the big issues of the day, but why bother when you can sit on the sofa and quip…and occasionally rant.
I Have A Bream is a collection of a couple of years of Farrell funnies, of columns designed to make you laugh and think in equal measure. Admittedly it isn’t a recent collection its beginning and end points running a bit either side of 2004, but the subjects are often universal, still valid and always mirthsome. I’m also thinking that as these were aimed at Guardian readers, a phrase which has taken on a weight of undue accusation in these divided times, that the target is going to be one who has at least a passing knowledge of events and personalities of the last twenty years and beyond.Subjects do pander to a certain liberal, artsy, cynical type, but then again that plays right into my comfort zone and I’m sure that 48% of the voting population would also find a lot to like here. The articles wander from the likes of the Nimbyism of street parking to the issue of immigration, a diatribe that uses similar devices as Stewart Lee in his stand-up routines on the same subject; boiling facts down to absurdity until the truth shines through. Some of my favourites include the very British protester disruption of parliament, one involving flour filled condoms, why we should blame Mark Thatcher’s parents for the way he has turned out and of course the titular reference of the backlash of Booker Prize nominees. And references to novels about Martin Luther King’s pet fish are as tenuous as they are funny.
As a coffee table book this is perfect, a quick browse over a cup of Darjeeling or chortle whilst you soak in the bath. Although not political in message it is often political in where it comes from but anyone who might be offended by his mildly liberal writings probably already stopped reading when I first mentioned The Guardian. For the rest of us it is a fantastically satirical and often-silly take on one man’s view of the modern world.
Product Information : I Have a Bream - John O'Farrell
Manufacturer's product descriptionIsn't it always the way? You wait ages for one purple flour-filled condom and then three come along at once.
Genre: Modern Fiction
Title: I Have a Bream
Author: John O'Farrell
Publisher: Black Swan
Listed on Ciao since: 08/06/2009