My book review of 'Haywire: the Best of Craig Brown' by Craig Brown
Described as 'our greatest living satirist' by the Sunday Times and 'exquisitely naughty and hilarious' by the Guardian, Craig Brown has written for most of the nation's newspapers over the years (or at least it seems that way). But perhaps he is best known for his longest serving gig, writing for 'Private Eye'. This is a collection of 'the best of' and draws on his articles, essays and book reviews over the past 10 years.
This is a great book to dip into with dozens of articles in the 500+ pages. Once you start reading, smiling and chuckling, you find that you keep turning the pages eager for more wry observations and silly jokes. It's certainly a tonic.
The book opens with Brown recalling how, when he was compiling a quiz, he wanted to find out if James Bond had a middle name. Looking it up on the internet he found two million entries and the authoritative assertion that James Bond's middle name was Herbert. Checking the authenticity of this fascinating fact, though, he found that the source was given as 'Craig Brown'.
He had no recollection of his article which also claimed that James Bond's brother was 'Basildon, a leading figure in the stationery business'. All very funny and silly, but a stark reminder, Brown acknowledges, that "in the glare of the internet, the border has been blurred between true and false, authentic and concocted, nutcase and expert".
It's an unsettling way to embark on this book, but it really is an entertaining read where Craig invites us to join him in exploring "the passing fads and delusions of the contemporary world".