In this weekly meme I will highlight a book that remains on my shelf, unread and impatiently waiting to be picked up.
My pick this time is anything but a serious book. It’s Brideshead Abbreviated: The Digested Read of the Twentieth Century by John Crace. I actually bought this book at the airport while I was waiting for my flight, and I had intended to read it on the plane. But in the end I got distracted by another book that I had brought with me from home, and the book remained unread. During my vacation I didn’t have time to read it, so when I came home it ended up on my shelf and, 1.5 years later, it’s still there! It’s a shame that I still haven’t read it though, because when I skimmed through it quickly it seemed like such a fun book.
John Crace’s ‘Digested Read’ column in the Guardian has rightly acquired a cult following. Each week fans avidly devour his latest razor-sharp literary assassination, while authors turn tremblingly to the appropriate page of the review section, fearful that it may be their turn to be mercilessly sent up.
Now he turns his critical eye on the classics of the last century, offering bite-sized pastiches of everything from Mrs Dalloway to Trainspottingvia Lolita and The Great Gatsby. Those who have never quite got around to reading A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man will be delighted to find its essence distilled into a handful of paragraphs. Those who have never really enjoyed Lord of the Flies will be pleased to find it hilariously parodied in an easily swallowable 982 words. And those who find all such works a little highbrow will be relieved to discover, between the covers of this book, John Crace’s take on the likes of Ian Fleming, P. G. Wodehouse and the Highway Code.
Witty and sharp, this is essential reading both for those who genuinely love literature and for those who merely want to appear ridiculously well read.