Richard Wright

author of strange, dark fictions

Journal

Birthdays & Bloodbath Book Reviews

January 11, 2012 by Richard Wright in Journal, Life

Top DadI’m still alive. And thirty-seven today. There is a reasonable chance that these two facts together have caused you to lose money, in which case I can only apologise, and advise you that gambling is a fool’s recreation.

For my birthday, my mug collection was made complete. Every father should have such a mug. Now I do. There are other things too, including my choice of watch (not yet bought, as I want final approval). There is also Bollinger. Pretty soon, Kirsty and Eva are taking me out for dinner and cocktails, so that’s that sorted.

Entirely by coincidence, Cuckoo was given a very nice review in the early hours of this morning (India time). It’s from Canada’s Wag The Fox, and though it won’t be posted to the official book review site until April, you can see it over on Goodreads or Amazon. Go see. It opens with: “When you pick up a book titled Cuckoo, unless you know before opening to page one that it’s a horror novel, you are not likely expecting a darkly disturbing and mind-bending freakshow. Then again, maybe you are, and if you are then I’d have to say it’s because you’re familiar with Richard Wright’s work.” While this would be a horrible thing to hear if you hadn’t been attempting to disturb and bend minds, I more or less was, and so my birthday is all the happier.

Speaking of reviews, horrible or otherwise, if car crashes compel you then go and read this Observer review of Jeff Thackara’s Book of Kings. It’s a bloodbath, but a well-written one. The nicest thing Phillip Hensher can say about it is that the author is “probably a nice man”. The worst thing? It’s difficult to choose. Perhaps: “Terrible as Thackara’s prose is, it becomes quite unremarkable when set next to his idea of dialogue.” Or maybe: “After a while, the incredulous reader starts to play a game: to open the book at random and try and find a tolerable sentence. Save your effort – you will never win. Thackara is always ahead of you, with his uncanny knack for the not-quite-right word and the yer-what turn of phrase.” Go and pick your favourite.

You’d think I’d be more sympathetic to the author (having not read the book, I certainly can’t judge the review against the novel), but to be honest I’m rather glad for Thackara. The only thing better for a book than hundreds of people buying it, is people talking about it. It’s not true that there’s no such thing as bad press. Bad press has to be really entertaining and very visible before it can be considered a good thing. This is both. I wish Thackara luck with what will probably be a lucrative career, movie deals and all.

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