Saturday, April 04, 2009

Christopher Brookmyre is righteous

Midway through Christopher Brookmyre's Quite Ugly One Morning, protagonist/reporter/burglar-for-good-reasons Jack Parlabane muses upon the executive jargon at a hospital he has infiltrated under false but noble pretenses:

"Parlabane found the word `pro-active' enormously useful, as it immediately exposed the speaker as an irredeemable arsehole, whatever previous impression might have been given. Once upon a time, he remembered, people and companies just did things. But that ceased to be impressive enough, and for a while they `actively' did things. Now they `pro-actively' did things, but it was still the same bloody things that they were doing when they just plain old did things. Meaningless wank-language. Every time he heard it he imagined George Orwell doing another 360 down below."
That brought back the crushing sense of abandonment I felt the first time I heard an editor use impact as a verb. Wanker.

© Peter Rozovsky 2009

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19 Comments:

Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Peter the use of the words, pro-active, irredeemable arsehole, wank-language, makes me wonder if we did a Vulcan mind meld when I was at my meeting on Thursday!
Or are all organizations now blighted by "managers" and "executive directors" on huge salaries who have forgotten amidst a blur of jargon what the purpose of the organization is.

April 04, 2009  
Blogger Loren Eaton said...

Every time he heard it he imagined George Orwell doing another 360 down below.

GOLD.

April 04, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

This could be the case, Uriah. We have established, after all, that we think alike.

I have often expressed gratitude that my career has been relatively free of meetings. I have also mused upon the pulse-quickening exaltation that jargon must confer on its users, that heady sense of soaring above the mundane.

Thanks heavens I am in an industry built on skepticism and plain-speaking.

April 04, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

"Or are all organizations now blighted by "managers" and "executive directors" on huge salaries who have forgotten amidst a blur of jargon what the purpose of the organization is."

You might be temperamentally well-suited to Quite Ugly One Morning.

April 04, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Loren, I especially like the line you cited because, while jargon-spouting arseholes make relatively easy targets, Brookmyre goes beyond that. He tells us with that line that their jargon-riddled arseholery has consequences. I've written before that Brookmyre's fiction has a highly moral basis. This is yet another example.

April 04, 2009  
Blogger Loren Eaton said...

Plus it's an allusion to Orwell's "Politics and the English Language," which was quite good as I remember.

April 04, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Quite good as I remember, as well, and just the sort of thing that has always been a hot topic of conversation in my newsroom.

April 04, 2009  
Blogger Sunnie Gill said...

No one, but no one does rants as well as Brookmyre. I find myself reading them and mentally shouting "yes!!" and punching the air each time.

April 04, 2009  
Blogger Sunnie Gill said...

Another thought. People really do buy into this stuff.

I once worked at an office supply shop. One of the employees was doing a Christmas display - with stationery items.

The manager came along, stopped, contemplated it for a moment and then said to the employee, it just doesn't excite me,".

Well I dunno about you, but stationery items have never done it for me either. Then again, this is the internet.. perhaps there is a webpage somewhere......

April 04, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Sunnie, we're of one mind on this. No one is as righteous a ranter as Brookmyre. I finished the book this evening, and I have just now posted on Oz Mystery Readers that I cheered inwardly when the two villains got their comeuppance.

April 04, 2009  
Blogger Sunnie Gill said...

Peter, have you Read "Be My Enemy".. I won't repeat the book's subtitle here, it might get me banned.

It is a p*ss take of executive bonding/outward bound weekend courses.

Violently bloody of course. It had one of the funniest sick puppy passages I've ever read.

April 04, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

"it just doesn't excite me."

Now, there's a manager who has vision beyond his or her station in life.

April 04, 2009  
Blogger Sunnie Gill said...

Ummm. I shall refrain from comment about the man. Lots I could say but I won't

April 04, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Sunnie, I read Boiling A Frog when I could not find a copy of A Tale Etched in Blood and Hard Black Pencil in time for the Oz Mystery Readers discussion. Quite Ugly One Morning was just my second Brookmyre novel, but I very much like the premise of Be My Enemy. Thanks for the recommendation.

April 04, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

"Ummm. I shall refrain from comment about the man. Lots I could say but I won't"

Oh, but you've said so much already. An editor I know of once said something similar about a story: "It doen't excite me" or "It doen't capture me" or some likewise foppish remark.

April 05, 2009  
Blogger Donna said...

I love Brookmyre and Quite Ugly One Morning is one of my favourites, along with Sunnie's recommendation of Be My Enemy, and, probably my all time favourite One Fine Day In The Middle Of The Night which is about a school reunion on an oil rig and is like a cross between Death Wish and The Breakfast Club.

April 05, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

"a cross between Death Wish and The Breakfast Club"

That's prime jacket-blurb material, a publicist's dream. I've just started A Big Boy Did It and Ran Away.

April 05, 2009  
OpenID krimileser said...

Peter,

there are no so many authors I read every book of. Brookmyre is one of them. I read "A Big Boy ... " a short while after 9/11 ... quite chilling.

[Concerning "Quite ugly", there is the scene with the turd "in the middle of the mantelpiece" Bust (Bruen/Starr) used the same scene (and even the word turd) do you think that Brookmyre inspired the scene in Bust ?]

April 06, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I have read that Brookmyre's unfortunate anticipation of 9/11 caused some problems, though the details escape me. Did the terrorist attacks spook him? Cut into the book's sales?

I have been thinking as I read that, for all Brookmyre's ranting, A Big Boy Did It and ... constitutes what might have seemed an unwelcome, somber analysis of terrorism at a time when the prevailing mood was more rally round the flag.

I don't remember that scene in Bust, but it would be quite the literary tribute from one over-the-top hilarious book to another.

April 06, 2009  

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