Posted by Tania Kindersley.
I am excited about a book. (Amazingly, not my own.) I mean: I am excited about the buying, sending off for, and waiting for arrival of, a new book.
I used to get hysterical almost every month about some new book or other. (You may imagine I was quite tiring during this period.) There was a new Rose Tremain, AS Byatt, Martin Amis, Paul Auster, Peter Carey, Salman Rushdie, Lorrie Moore, Muriel Spark, Jay McInerney, Sebastian Faulkes-rhymes-with-jokes (the only way to remember the correct pronunciation). I would be banging down the door of the bookshop.
Now, that does not seem to happen. I have moved away from fiction, for a reason I cannot quite identify. It might be age; it might be that I am writing non-fiction; sometimes I think the world is too strange for made-up stories, just at the moment.
It's probably just a phase, but it coincides with some of my favourite writers going through a bit of a flat patch. It's a little unfair to expect novelists to go on dazzling and dazzling, year after year. If you have written Midnight's Children, you can't just clone that, over and over. Money and The Information should be enough, in a way. Birdsong was such an extraordinary book that I still remember finishing it, in a small, white-washed room, high up in a crumbling French house, looking out over cypress groves, and having to be late for dinner, because it took half an hour to compose myself. One should not demand that level of brilliance, endlessly repeated.
But now I am excited. This may be a terrible blatant show of middle age, but I am thrilled because the book is a mighty stand against jargon. It does not sound that dizzying, written like that, in a short, flat sentence. But it's one of the things I care about now. It's The Banned List, by John Rentoul, and it takes up the banner put down by Orwell, in 1946, and carries it swinging over the barricades. I am counting the days until the man from Amazon arrives.
Rentoul, a columnist I could not admire more, started it as a bit of a joke. It was a small blog, hidden away in The Indy. I think he just got fed up with everyone on the radio talking about 'going forward' (as opposed, presumably, to racing backward), and 'year on year', and 'at this point in time'. Rather than just muttering about it and shouting at the wireless, he began a crusade. Readers got excited and started sending in their own pet loathes. All platitudes, management-speak, cliché, jargon and other exhausted tropes and idioms were taken out behind the bike shed and duffed up. It was magnificent. It took on a wild life of its own.
And now it is a book, and I can't wait. I might not have a solution for the sovereign debt crisis or the Euro smash or the stuttering state of GDP, but I can join in the battle against rotten prose. And now I shall have a handbook to do it.
No pictures today. Even though words are my business, and my daily love, I have none good enough to express the level of bleakness, blackness, dreichness and dreariness of the weather outside. It is as if someone has emptied a bowl of old washing up water over my head. Everything looks old and grubby.
So here a couple from the archive:
The hill, which has not actually been visible these last four days:
This is what the thrilling book looks like:
Sorry for rather blurred photograph, but at least you know what to look for in your local, independent bookshop. Or, if you are out in the sticks like me, with straw in your hair, you can find it at Amazon here.