Monday, April 06, 2009

A Big Boy Did It and Ran Away

I'm trying to think myself into an author's mind on this. When a writer has a narrator heap scorn in the Christopher Brookmyre manner, does he sometimes reserve a dose of scorn for that narrator?

The first of several targets in Brookmyre's novel A Big Boy Did It and Ran Away is suburbia and its aspirations. Some of the barbs are funny. Trouble is, suburbia is such an easy target, which takes a bit of the edge off such lines as "Dear Lord, protect us from uniqueness. Grant unto us eternal conformity, and deliver us from distinction. Amen."

That seems — not unsubtle, because subtlety is not what one looks for in Brookmyre, but perhaps stale for a book published in 2001. Popular artists have been poking fun at the suburbs for decades, after all. Or maybe suburbs never caught on as a target for popular condescension and satire in Europe the way they did in the U.S. Or maybe, just maybe, Brookmyre means to tell us that the narrator in question is not the boldest and most incisive of social critics.

OK, point settled. On suburbia, A Big Boy Did It ... is no "Pleasant Valley Sunday." But that's just a quibble, and the suburban pot shots are just a warm-up for Brookmyre's bigger targets and funnier lines. Here's my favorite of the latter so far:

"Artro's geopolitical knowledge didn't extend very far beyond Russia being the Great Satan and the US being the Great Satan as well, and it was widely rumoured that he'd gone on the lam to Finland in the disastrously mistaken belief that Scandinavia was an entirely autonomous continent, political separate from Europe. That said, misapprehension wouldn't necessarily have led to apprehension if he'd followed the first rule of lying low, which is to lie low."
© Peter Rozovsky 2009

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Blogger ARCHAVIST said...

Brookmyre is excellent - I'm a big fan of his.

April 06, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I may be headed in that direction, though perhaps I'll take an occasional break between books to catch my breath.

April 06, 2009  
Blogger seanag said...

I have this odd feeling that I have read Brookmyre and even enjoyed him, though not recently, but I can't for the life of me remember what. The covers and titles are very evocative, but of course it may just be that I've seen some of them when they passed through the store.

April 07, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Possibly even odder, I have recently seen some other books whose covers reminded me of the Brookmyre novels'. Quite naturally, I can't remember which books they were.

April 07, 2009  
Blogger Kerrie said...

Peter, I have given you an award on

April 07, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks, I'll try to discharge all awards-related responsibilities by the end of the week.

April 08, 2009  

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