Wednesday, 3 February 2010

William Boyd? Surely not.

I recently finished reading William Boyd's latest novel, Ordinary Thunderstorms. It took me forever because I kept abandoning it then picking it up again. I mean, surely it couldn't be that shit all the way through to the final page. Could it? Well, no. Somehow, it actually got shittier before disappearing up its own anus with a grim squelch. I had to check that this was the same William Boyd who wrote Restless and Armadillo. Tragically, it was.

I'm not Boyd's biggest fan, but have generally found him to be fairly readable, in a can't-find-anything-else-in-Luton-Airport-Smiths-and-the-plane's-about-to-leave kind of way. He can handle whimsy and more serious themes reasonably well, and there's a level of intelligence that marks him out as a reliable if not exactly must-read author. So what the fuck happened?

Ordinary Thunderstorms starts off with a ridiculous (and seen-it-all-before) premise - innocent man witnesses murder when he goes somewhere no sensible (or even stupid) human being would even think of venturing. He then - surprise, surprise - pulls the knife out of the victim (the only person in the western world who's never watched CSI or a million other police procedurals) and dithers about informing the police for reasons so inane I can no longer recall them. He then goes into hiding - in a tent on a grassy bank alongside the Thames, mind - and becomes feral, vicious and cunning. The guy's a respected meteorologist or something. Doesn't he have any better ideas than that? The casual murder he carries out is as incongruous and silly as the fey, dopey, facile affair he conducts with an investigating policewoman.

Sorry if I've ruined it for you but, trust me, I've saved you eight quid and days of ploughing through dung wondering whether it can possibly get any stinkier. Trust me, it does. Pathetic, implausible, lazy, idiotic, cretinous, moronic...and I haven't even opened my thesaurus yet.

And, once again, I mutter and curse at the injustice of it all. Maybe Boyd's track record enables (entitles?) him to get away with this travesty of literature, but how comes I can't get a publisher when crap like this (and by people like Erica Spindler - an illiterate - James Patterson (or any one of his minions), Tony Parsons - don't start me off - and thousands of others) gets onto our shelves? I wouldn't mind, but several agents and publishers have told me my stuff is 'great' and 'hilarious' and 'commercial' - but I'm still sitting here, baby.

Spleen vented. Feeling a bit better now. Should last at least 10 minutes.


  1. Thanks for ending my day with a laugh! I haven't got time to read much, short attention span etc. Any more book reviews? I like this synopsis in a minute sort of thing! Howz about a taste of your book?! You got yourself a follower - don't jump!

  2. Thank you Bev. I've got a review on here somewhere of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo if you're interested.

    You're my 12th follower but probably the only one who's actually read anything I've written here!