A problem of the truly prolific writer is to keep track of the treasured words once the avaricious agent gets hold of them, especially with all the new-fangled publishing formats we're confused by nowadays. Search my name on Amazon and you'll find hardbacks, softbacks, audio-books, podcasts, manga-streams, tweet-weaves, snip-vines, me-mozaics, and countless other forms of publication upon which the fans shower their money. Half the time I don't know stuff's published until its waved under the nose with pens by the autograph hunters.
This morning was a case in point. Working through the papers over breakfast, I got to the New Yorker, unfolded it, and blow me down if the front page wasn't a Searle caricature of yours truly as Gulliver looking down at a dozen or so Lilliputians, among whom could be recognised Huxley, Russell, Godel, Bacon, de Beauvoir, Keynes, Feynman, and so on. To right, just above the little figures at the bottom, was the caption: 'Peter Frith on Essay den Sushing'.
Anyway... flick to page 2 of New Yorker..scan introductory column headed 'This Week'...yep, there we go- little bit of blurb about me... true polymath, giant of post-modernism, statesman, champion of women's rights, towering intellect, Nobel oversight, etc etc, recently published book 'The 'Best of' Essay den Sushing', review by Frith on page 5.
On the one hand it was a complete surprise- I'd no idea that the anyone had been working on a collection of my best work, let alone that one had been published and sent to the New Yorker for review. And a damned thick book that would be. On the other, with so much superlative writing to my name, you'd be puzzled why a 'Best of' wasn't cramming the shelves years ago.
Fair enough so far. Nod to maid to top up coffee. Take next mouthful of nourishing breakfast. Turn to page 5. Start to read Frith's review:
"Welcome over-due publication of the best of den Sushing. Editors faced difficult choices. Unparalleled breath and depth of insight. Unique cocktail of humour, invention and serious message." And so on.
Reach seventh paragraph. See the words "den Sushing's occasionally overwrought prose style". Experience moment of disbelief. Re-read the words to be sure. Drop scalding coffee on thigh. Almost choke. Spray stream of toast crumbs and caviar over nearby secretary... OVERWOUGHT PROSE STYLE?????!!!!!!!
F***ing Firth. Overwrought prose style? I suppose he considers Hussein Bolt overfast, the oceans overwet, the Mona Lisa overpainted, Bach's cannon overmusical, the Great Pyramids overmonumental, our dear Queen overregal, my quantum electrodynamic calculations of the magnetic moment of the Higgs Boson overprecise, the...
Ed- don't forget the style guide. Looks to me like we're forgetting the style guide.
Eh? What? Oh, right, yes, but those ******** ***** ******* at the ********** New Yorker had better look out.
Ed- and the Defamation Avoidance Policy. Let's not be forgetting that either.