« Artwank? | Main | Going Global »


I think it might be something to do with being a hangover from the old 18th century daily gossip sheets like the Tatler, which censored all names and places in order to cover the arse of its writer. A lot of newssheet writers became novelists, but why they kept this particular trait I've no idea.

I like the image on this post.

I have read that the Victorian age was highly litigeous, so it was neccessary to avoid any confusion between real people and fictional characters. See also the outrageous names which Dickens and other authors used - it wasn't just for comic effect, it warded off law suits too.

I hate the use of hyphens instead of speech marks e.g.

- Oh Vera, that's a lovely hat you have on
- That's no hat, that's my fruit bowl

And at the risk of sounding like I'm a hating kind of a person, I'm afraid I also hate the image on this post.

My pet book hate is the obsession with possessive titles that started, perhaps, with Flaubert's Parrot, but really gathered momentum after Captain Corelli's Mandolin.

It now feels as if every other historical biography has to have a possessive title:

Fermat's Last Theorem
Nathaniel's Nutmeg
Captain Bligh's Portable Nightmare
Nella's Last Peace
Kitchener's Last Volunteer
Rutka's Notebook
Darwin's Dangerous Ideaetc

and also novels like:

Lempriere's Dictionary
Hemmingway's Chair
Edward Trencom's Nose

The list goes on.

I get really irritated when any book deliberately fails to name the main character. It smacks of smart-arsery and becomes especially silly when any dialogue with or about the character becomes forced by following the pattern of not naming her. Check out Elizabeth Kostova's vastly overrated The Historian as a prime example

It's more of a production niggle - but I don't like it when very short books are printed with huge typeface to make them fill more pages. A short book is a short book, be proud of it and let it look slender on the shelf.

I've just thought of another one - introductions in classics that tell you how the novel ends. I remember dutifully reading the foreword to the Penguin Classics edition of 'Jude the Obscure' only to discover what happened to Jude. Thanks a million. Some of us still like to be surprised by the ending (although in Hardy's case, you don't need to be Mystic Meg to predict the outcome).

And I quite agree about foreign language quotes. Those of us who didn't have the benefit of a private education are not automatically proficient in several European languages and it really annoys me when some ponce starts quoting in French without including a translation.

Still, plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

The comments to this entry are closed.

New Arrivals

Currently Reading

One You May Have Missed

  • Ian Holding: Unfeeling

    Ian Holding: Unfeeling
    Unforgettable novel told from the point of view of the son of a white Zimbabwean farmer whose land is reclaimed by an armed mob. I thought it was an oustanding debut and am surprised the author didn't go on to bigger and better things.

Now Playing


Quick Flicks

Dipping Into

Kindle Sampled

  • David Adam: The Man Who Couldn't Stop: The Truth About OCD

    David Adam: The Man Who Couldn't Stop: The Truth About OCD
    Part study of OCD, part memoir of a chap who thinks he is going to catch AIDS from everything he touches. If you have an interest in the subject then I suspect this will be bang on the money for you. I wasn't quite compelled enough to read on. (***)

  • Albertine Sarrazin: Astragal

    Albertine Sarrazin: Astragal
    A few pages into some of the most overwrought and pretentious writing I have come across for a while I realised I was reading the intro by Patti Smith rather than the novel itself. Only a few pages of the novel are included in this sample and they are better than the intro. (***)

  • Peter Stanford: Judas: The troubling history of the renegade apostle

    Peter Stanford: Judas: The troubling history of the renegade apostle
    I heard this chap interviewed on Australian radio so checked out his book. His premise is that Judas wasn't necessarily the chap who shopped Jesus and that that bit of the story was made up later. I suspect the whole bloody Bible was made up later, but that's another matter. Enjoyed the sample of this and will read the rest. (****)

  • M. D. Lachlan: Wolfsangel

    M. D. Lachlan: Wolfsangel
    I was quickly sucked in to this Viking novel. Very keen to read on. (****)

  • Eva Stachniak: The Winter Palace

    Eva Stachniak: The Winter Palace
    A novel based on the early life of Catherine the Great. Having read a lengthy biography of her last year I was impressed by how well Stachniak stuck to the facts while also bringing to life. (****)

  • Phillip Adams: Bedtime Stories: 21 Years Behind the Mike at RN's Late Night Live

    Phillip Adams: Bedtime Stories: 21 Years Behind the Mike at RN's Late Night Live
    Thanks to the wonders of the internet, I listen to this chap's Australian radio show and always find him to be a measured and intriguing presenter and interviewer. I am equally enamoured with his memoir. (****)

Big Mouth at the Movies

  • : The Imitation Game

    The Imitation Game
    The exposition clunked around more noisily than Turing's machine. Pretty good despite that. (***)

  • : The Lost Boys

    The Lost Boys
    Saw this at an outdoor screening at a garlic farm. Still enjoyable. (***)

  • : That Awkward Moment

    That Awkward Moment
    Stupid. Juvenile. Kinda funny. (***)

  • : Before I Go To Sleep

    Before I Go To Sleep
    Interesting amnesia thriller featuring the highest paid chemistry teacher in Britain (if Colin Firth's house is anything to go by). (***)

  • : Dallas Buyers Club

    Dallas Buyers Club
    Great performances and I appreciated the fact that it never took the sentimental route. (****)

  • : The Fighter

    The Fighter
    Great performances all round. (****)

  • : Mad Max: Fury Road

    Mad Max: Fury Road
    Confused. Terrible dialogue. And what little CGI they did use looked rubbish. A huge disappointment. (**)

  • : Jiro Dreams Of Sushi

    Jiro Dreams Of Sushi
    Documentary about the best sushi chef in the world. Made me really want some eel nigiri. (****)

  • : Me Without You

    Me Without You
    Second time I've seen this. It was the film that made me realise Michelle Williams was amazing. (****)

  • : Meteora

    Beautifully shot. Not enough plot. (***)

  • : Untouchable

    One of the most successful French movies of all time. I can see why. (****)

  • : Involuntary

    Swedish film that cleverly looks at group dynamics and how they influence the actions of the individual. Sort of cinema verite in style, the shots of often framed as if you are a voyeur looking on. (****)

  • : The Fall

    The Fall
    What a great movie. Amazed I had never heard of it before. Stunning cinematography. Loved it. (*****)

  • : Where the Truth Lies

    Where the Truth Lies
    Interesting thriller. Not a classic, by any means, but worth a look if it's on the telly. (***)

  • : Guardians of the Galaxy

    Guardians of the Galaxy
    Good fun, I thought. Not the best film in the world but a cut above the usual superhero stuff. (****)

  • : The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya

    The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya
    Unlike any animation I have seen. Quite stunning. (****)

Books Read: 2015

My Books