Sunday, May 07, 2006

Books: He faced the witching hour and he prevailed

I read a lot of books. It's easy to criticise books, but it's also true to say that most of the books I read are pretty good. They were good enough to get published, and that's a higher benchmark than you think.

I find that most books fall into three categories: terrible - which is usually more down to taste than quality; merely good - also dictated largely by taste; and outstanding - where you talk about them to your friends, want to read bits to people and would like to lend them to other people but won't because they may not come back.

There is another category. It's the category that DBC Pierre, David Mitchell and a few others occupy. It's the category of book - or perhaps of writing - that transcends most of what you have read before; that just comes in from left field with a story or a way of telling the story that blows you away. And no matter how you ultimately feel about the book - taste again - you have to stand back and give respect to the author.

Ludmilla's Broken English is DBC Pierre's first book after his booker prize. It's also his second book - it's like an author's double witching hour to have to write a book after all that adulation: will it be good enough; will it end my career if people don't like it; how can I possibly live up to my own standard; shit - I've peaked too early.

Well DBC Pierre's done it - it's a good book, the writing it outstanding and it's completely different to his last one. I didn't like the ending much - but that is just my taste and how I was feeling at 11.30pm last night. The book is superb.


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