"The twins? Nature's gentlemen they was. Always held the door open for you when they walked into a room. Mrs Kray? A real lady. Make no mistake, old women could walk around after dark in the East End if Ron and Reggie was still about. Of course, Ron was stark raving mad but there you are. Did I ever tell you about the time me and Nosher Stribbs did this Securicor van in the Old Kent Road?"
Mr Pratchett is extremely good at what he does. Mr Pratchett's imitators, stacked up along the fantasy shelves, somewhat less so. "It was twilight in the Valhalla rest home for the immortals, and Thor and Odin were enjoying a game of chess..." Have titles like Laptops Of the Gods, with a cast borrowed from Larousse and lots of jokes about IT.
Confessions of a soccer hooligan
In which apparent regret for past excesses is not allowed to dull their lavish recreation. Frightening-looking boneheads scowl from the jacket. Within, Joe Hawkins from Richard Allen's Skinhead books has belatedly discovered his conscience. "So me and Ernie decked this tosser in the Millwall scarf and jumped on his head while the old Bill just scarpered. Shocking innit? Mark my words, there'll be trouble at Euro 2000/the World Cup" etc.
Invariably sub-titled "My Story," as in "Lee Fredge: My Story". Basically Lee Fredge got born, went to school, scored that goal against Morocco, met Mrs Fredge and er... The remaining 200 pages are bulked out with tabloid- inflaming hints about not seeing eye-to-eye with "the gaffer", match-reports and lots of confusing nicknames, with stylistic flourishes courtesy of the ghost-writer.
Susy, Emma and Victoria live in this grotty flat in Harlesden. Susy goes out with Hugo, but is having a fling with Guy. Emma is a bit of a tart, but really very nice, you know. Victoria couldn't get a man if she advertised, which is what she ends up doing, and her mother keeps ringing. Oh, and they've got this gay friend called Simon who lives upstairs, and an author who never got over the experience of seeing This Life on TV.
Joe, Fergus and Sam live in this grotty flat in Sands End. Joe shags anything that moves, Fergus has a subscription to Loaded but is actually a successful barrister, and Sam never washes his underwear. Oh and they've got this lesbian friend called Kate, who lives upstairs, and an author who never got over the experience of seeing Men Behaving Badly on TV.
The Scottish Renaissance
"So ah'm telling ye, big yin, there's Bobba and me, had mair Es than would kill a python, para as fuck and watching the Hibbies play Celtic while this lassie tries to interview us for Channel Four, and..." James Kelman was doing all this stuff a decade ago. A whole lot better, too.
Small books about large subjects
Dinkily got up pocket-sized disquisitions on scientific imponderables, lexicography, death etc designed to fool the reader into believing that the contents of the average degree course can be subsumed into a couple of hours' light reading.
Little Books Of...
As in calm, farting, swearing, pants, imaginative dead-ends.
Junk about junk
"Our primary millennial responsibility is to take a more constructive view of intoxication, to harness the creative potential of that statistically significant proportion of the population who inhabit hallucinatory realms where..." etc. Coleridge, De Quincey, Kerouac, Burroughs and other literary dope-fiends regularly name-checked. Strong on cultural relativism (the Ngonge tribe of Papua, New Guinea are permanently stoned on skunk, but, you see, it's their culture).
Despatches from the slab
"With practised hands she sliced through the soft, yielding tissue of the abdomen into the coiled mass of the lower intestine. A thick, purulent stench rose from the exposed kidneys, purple in the harsh light..." Nasty voyeurismfrom the police post-mortem lab masquerading as detective fiction.
Have you ever seen a baby? Know how it works? Been woken by one? A great many thirtysomething columnists, mysteriously, haven't. Until now. Convinced the experience is unique, they are desperate to impart it to other people. You will particularly like the bit, common to all examples, where baby Fang presses the delete button on Daddy's computer.
Biographies of George Eliot
At least five in the last decade. Two (by Rosemary Ashton and Kathryn Hughes) were rather good, but couldn't we have someone else for a change? The same goes for Anthony Trollope (four). Not forgetting - celebrity- chef cookbooks, memoirs by discredited members of the last government, anything about "New Labour", cats, and meaningless feats of physical endurance. And anything with "Millennium" in the title.
DJ Taylor wrote the only biography of Thackeray for several decades (Chatto)Reuse content