Archive for blackadder

BLAST FROM THE PAST By Ben Elton – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2017 by stanleyriiks

I read Stark, Elton’s first book, when I was at school. It was funny, political, interesting. I watched The Young Ones, Blackadder, and The Thin Blue Line. I’d seen some of Elton’s stand-up on TV. I wasn’t obsessive, but I considered myself a fan.

I probably bought this book around the time it came out in 1998 and just haven’t got round to reading it. Nearly twenty years after the book came out it hasn’t really dated. It’s still as relevant as it was back then.

It’s the story of a young woman, Polly, who, after having an affair with a US soldier based at Greenham Airbase in the 80s (she was a protester), gets a phone call from him at 2.15 in the morning. She’s also being stalked by a man she called the Bug.

Although the book follows the conversations, it’s about the lives of these characters, their interactions with each other, and the impact of the initial affair.

But, it’s not classic Elton. It’s not particularly funny, there are no laugh out loud moments, and only the occasional smiles. The characters are fairly well rounded, but occasionally come across as typical stereotypes. The plot feels like a writing exercise: can I write a whole book based on a few hours of conversation one night. And it’s all fairly predictable.

That’s not to say it isn’t entertaining, and despite some issues I have with Elton’s all over the place writing style, it draws you in and you want to find out what happens next. It is easy reading.

Not Elton’s best by a long shot, out of his first five books (this is the fifth) this is the least successful.

I still have about four Elton books hidden on my shelves somewhere, but on the strength of this one I won’t be searching them out immediately.

Stephen Fry…. Genius? Bastard?

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 17, 2009 by stanleyriiks

I’ve just finished reading Fry’s The Hippopotamus. Yes, I know I shouldn’t be reviewing a booking that was first published fifteen years ago, and don’t worry, I’m not going to. It’s a little difficult to think of Stephen Fry, and much of his work, in a critical light.

I was never a fan of Fry and Laurie, or Jeeves and Wooster. Neither particularly floated my boat.

My fascination, my love, of Stephen Fry and his work started when I read his first novel, The Liar. A deeply personal and semi-autobiographical coming of age novel. A kind of English, middle-class Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, a comparison I’m sure he’d hate. But it’s a personal equivalent, both of them touched me and helped me to identify who I am in a way I still find difficult to put into words. Without experiencing either The Liar or Ferris Bueller I would be a very different person, in the same way that if I had never read that first Conan novel when I was fourteen, I wouldn’t have discovered fantasy, horror and science fiction and very probably wouldn’t even be writing this now.

Stephen Fry is one of those people with an incredible memory, with such written skill and humour that it makes you hate his talent. He’s one of those people you would love to meet and have a conversation with, but when faced with him, you probably wouldn’t be able to mutter a single word.

I know Stephen Fry only from his work – including his Blackadder appearances – I’ve never met the man, so I can say all this in complete ignorance. I set my Virgin + box to diligently record QI, Stephen’s current dispensary of knowledge, a quiz show for those less intelligent than the great man. Which is all of us.

Fry’s novels make me weep, not only because he draws you into the lives of his characters in a way few people can, not even because his books are sometimes so funny that tears drip from the corners of your eyes, but because it sickens me that I don’t have half the talent he does. That’s why I have to hate him, envy.

If you’ve never read a Stephen Fry book then you’ve deprived yourself, and you should remedy this immediately.

The Hippopotamus is a funny, irreverent, and highly enjoyable read.  To review it would be to do it a disservice.  Fry’s poet and critic Edward Wallace is my hero, as is his creator.  Enough said.