One word book reviews have always been something that baffled me and seemed rather pointless, something that was done by people who worked for the high brow broadsheets that was designed to make those who hadn't followed a specific education path fell inferior.....until last night (well, the early hours of this morning) when I stumbled upon one of my own.
I'd just finished reading Stephen Fry's 'The Liar' when I closed it over and saw the "reviews" on the cover and instantly knew they had all got it wrong......wrong because I knew the word they were looking for was "Unexpected". On reflection I found myself being rather pleased that I was able to sum up the book in one word that I felt covered everything from the story and style to the plot. I think I'll give the one word reviews a little more thought in future before being so quick to dismiss them as pointless....they might be wrong, but the will no longer baffle me or appear pointless.
I read a fair bit and will happily flip between most genres depending on my mood and whether I crave knowledge, entertainment or just want to escape the world for a while. As much as I enjoy watching him on TV and listening to him on the Radio, I had never given much thought to reading any of his books as I had this misconception that they would probably make for heavy reading, but I got "The Liar" as a stocking filler and, as I said above, it was "unexpected".
It's one of those books that can be read on "different levels", and I don't mean levels of intellect, age (although not recommended for kids) or even class. You can pick it up and read it end to end and thoroughly enjoy the plot which slowly reveals itself throughout the book, but keeps on giving until the end. The individual chapters read as if they are short stories within themselves that could stand alone and leave you quite satisfied. The humour is fantastic and carries throughout the book....in fact it takes the idea of stereotype beyond the ludicrous to the point, well to no point really as it takes you full circle and indulges the predisposition we all have to believing in stereotypes.
I believe plans are afoot, and may already be under way for turning this book in to a screenplay or film. I prefer to read the book and then compare it to the on screen interpretation. In most cases it allows you to fill in any gaps in the movie/film/screenplay and enhance the viewing experience. Far better that than already having the plot in your head while reading and knowing what's coming next....for me at least.
"Making History" is next on the list of Fry's books for me. It's another stocking filler from a family member who took my love of QI to mean a love of all things Stephen Fry....a bit like a mad aunt or gran takes your love of anything and thinks they should knit you a jumper with it on the front. Many such gifts end up as landfill or charity shop donations...but I struck lucky this time.