Thursday, July 10, 2008


I'm in a small book group. There are five of us. We've been doing it for longer than I care to remember and certainly since before it suddenly became fashionable, and then, a year or two later, unfashionable. I got involved because I thought I should try and read some fiction. Up until the book group started I'd never really bothered with fiction as I've always believed fact is far more interesting. The truth is often so unbelievable that most writers couldn't even make it up for fear of ridicule. But I was prepared to accept I might have been missing something so I really should try.

I've always read the book on offer. We run a strict rotation policy regarding who chooses the book. We meet on a Sunday evening every six to eight weeks so it's not a burden or particularly time consuming and shouldn't interfere with whatever else one might like to read. I tend to buy the book as soon as possible after it's nominated, start reading it, and if I like it, will read it at my normal pace. If I don't like it, I'll put the book to one side, read something more interesting and then a week before the meeting I just cram the book.

I'm not going to go into detail but there have been books I've liked and books I've disliked. There have been books I've raced through, and there have been books that I can honestly say all the words in the book passed under my eyes but I failed to absorb anything from the experience.

This month though, is a first. The chosen book is War Music by Christopher Logue. It's his account of the first three volumes of Homer's Iliad. Apparently it's taken him years. I 'phoned my friend David this evening to say that although it's my turn to next host the book group I have no intention of doing so as I am unable to continue reading this book. Not only that, but I feel so strongly against it I don't even want to talk about it. I don't want to waste any more time on it, nor do I wish to enter into conversation with other people who might have liked it who will try and convince me I'm wrong. I simply don't want to hear a justification ever for its bloody existence.

This is one of those books I find utterly pointless. I guess the intention is to bring Homer's Iliad to a contemporary audience. It's unreadable. It's dreadful. Full of clunking contemporary imagery, wilfully irritating punctuation, invented words. It would be easier to learn Ancient Greek or whatever language Homer wrote in than try and drag myself through this turgid, clunking nonsense. No book has irritated me so much that I feel there is absolutely no point in me attending the meeting because I can think of absolutely nothing I can say in its favour. Absolutely nothing. I would just get angrier and angrier (and I'm not really an angry person) to the point where little flecks of foam are appearing at the side of my mouth, and I'd still know I'm only getting warmed up about why I hate this book so much. People would see a side of me that they would not believe existed, and in fact I didn't know existed either. I'm angry now and have to stop. It has upset me that I hate it so much and I consider hate to be an overused word these days which should be used as sparingly as possible.

"Cuntstruck Agamemnon", "Please do not fart. You are a powerful man." "Down the eye-hole of his own knob." Oh just fuck off up your own bloody knob you silly man.


Anonymous said...

Whoa. Next time, say how you really feel! :-)

There's only a few books I've hated - some guff called 'What Men Think About Sex' being the choice one. I hate smug, up-yer-arse-y nonsense as much as you, trust me.

The book you've flung on the pyre sounds bloody awful. I've never read the Iliad but did read a translation of The Odyssey and loved it, despite not being a classics-head and finding the book hard work.

King of Scurf said...

Hi China: Even talking about that book gets my back up. I was trying to read it on the tube last week and I wanted to throw it on the floor, stamp on it and then shove it through the window into the tunnel so nobody else would stumble across it....but I resisted. I'm pretty sure it's the first book I will ever bin.

sabrina said...

LOL! Oh dear...i'm inclined to read the book just to see for myself what really pissed you off!!

Might i suggest a journey through Discworld (Terry Pratchett) to put that smile back on your face? :p

King of Scurf said...

Hi Saby: I implore you, keep away from this book.

Never really got into sci-fi but if it was a choice between that and The Iliad thing then the sci-fi would win every time.

GreatSheElephant said...

Wow. That made me want to read it - right up to the last paragraph that is, which really put me off.

Why not just read an ordinary translation anyhow?

King of Scurf said...

Good question GSE, which I would ask the sponsor of this book if I was planning to turn up to the meeting.

"the b" said...

Discworld isn't science fiction! It's fantasy, but I wouldn't even put it in that niche. It's bloody good is what it is.

Anonymous said...

Well that's just put me off Christopher Logue for life