Tag Archives: Non Fiction Challenge 2011

The Complete Polysyllabic Spree….who??

10 Mar

By Nick HornbyI have finally finished this! It didn’t take me so long, it’s just that I found this to be so entertaining, I quite simply didn’t want to put it down! I had my reservations when I first picked this up – while I love Nick Hornby and was thoroughly engrossed by the genius of High Fidelity and the sweetness of About A Boy, I hadn’t known he could write so well, apart from fiction, let alone heard of the Polysyllabic Spree ( the odd-numbered, white-robed, often naked, board members of UK literary review magazine the Believer, who seem to really have it in for our boy Hornby – suspended writer, anyone?). What this book is is essentially a collection of the column articles that Hornby writes for the Believer from September 2003 to June 2006, reviewing the books he has read that particular month, as well as listing all books bought, those not read, and those abandoned in fits of rage and frustration ( and can’t we all relate to this one!).

Among these pages, I found many books to inspire my own reading journey – I even made a list of all the ones I am adding to the wishlist! ( Not added here otherwise we’d be here into next week!). Hornby’s commentary on what he has read has this effect – fast-paced, witty,downright funny ( I even found myself laughing out loud in places, and I NEVER do that!) , and sometimes you just don’t quite know whether he is being serious…or just pulling your leg ( I strongly suspect the latter). The books he loves, he LOVES, and the ones he doesn’t…well, he’s not allowed to mention by name ( Believer rules!), so we never find out which ones they are, though he does drop hints, in the hope he’ll give the game away! From reading biographies and writer’s collected letters ( Dylan Thomas, Anton Chekov, and Phillip Larkin to mention a few, along with an abandoned biography of George ‘ Dubya’ Bush – I don’t blame him ), to serious books such as Jonathan Lehman’s The Fortress of Solitude, True Notebooks byMark Salzman, What Good are the Arts by John Carey, and a lot of Charles Dickens and J.D Salinger, to his repeat reading of Quitting Smoking – The Lazy Person’s Guide!, there is much to be found between these pages ( he even has me convinced me I really, really need to read The Men Who Stare at Goats, Jon Ronson’s paranormal-meets-military book on combating the War on Terror!) . But the highlight for me? Hornby and his take on the Motley Crue autobiography The Dirt . Uncoventional, unexpected, hilarious, and very rock and roll, read his review and weep. With tears of laughter.

I recommend this book to anyone who loves reading books about books, willing to open their mind to some interesting book choices, by one hell of a reviewer who is thoroughly amusing, and will keep you entertained until the last page.