Rebecca Tyrrel: Ricky Gervais may be the only person to have written more fictional works than he’s read

Share
Related Topics

Who knew that Ricky Gervais claims to have read precisely the one novel? Aged 28, he heroically ploughed through JD Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye. He says he was not impressed and when, another 28 years later, he did Desert Island Discs, it was a book of coffee-table art that Kirsty Young gave the nod to.

Shouldn't the former television producer Jane Fallon, his partner of more than 30 years, have been just a little upset that he didn't want one of her four best-selling novels?

As his career has progressed, or regressed, from the timeless brilliance of The Office to the head-scratchingly abysmal Derek – his gurnfest "comedy" about a sweet-natured but simpleton care-home worker, which ended its first and (God willing) only run on Channel 4 this week – it has become increasingly difficult to be sure when Gervais is trying to be funny. With the mono-novel confession, however, no irony is intended. Far from lapsing fondly into David Brent when he makes this claim, he is being absolutely serious.

It is a bizarre fact, independently confirmed by Ms Fallon, and it places the actor, writer, director, failed new romantic musician, semi-professional atheist, cheekily celeb-taunting Golden Globes host and occasional baiter of the disabled in an incredibly select group. Indeed he may be the only person in history to have written more fictional works – four so far in his Flanimals range of children's books – than he has read. He does, though, hope to abandon this possible claim to uniqueness in the fulness of time. "I'm going to do that," he has said of his eagerly awaited reading comeback, "when there's nothing else to do, and I'm 70 and lying on a beach."

The second novel is of course notoriously difficult to tackle, if more commonly for the author rather than the reader. Which calls to mind the joke about the Jewish mother who, finding her prospective son-in-law is a writer says, "There you go, Becki, a perfect match, he writes, you read!"

With the entire canon of global literature an open book to Gervais, choosing the next will be quite a challenge. Although Ms Fallon hopes that he one day samples her oeuvre, she can't help but worry.

"I would like him to read them," says Jane, "but I would like him to read them in the context of books in general. Because if I'm going to be compared to The Catcher In The Rye, I'm not going to win."

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior / Graduate Application Support Engineer

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...

QA Manager - North Manchester - Nuclear & MOD - £40k+

£35000 - £41000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: QA Manager -...

Property Finance Partner

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: LONDON - BANKING / PROPERTY FINANCE - ...

Agile Tester

£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

Day In a Page

 

Naturism criminalised: Why not being able to bare all is a bummer

Simon Usborne
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on