A comic novel which explores the adventures of Howard Kirk, the most promiscuous and radical Marxist tutor at a fashionable campus university. The author also wrote "Rates of Exchange" and "Eating People is Wrong".
Some might wish that poetry would always be this much fun. McGough has the most uncanny way of jangling the meaning of words and use it in unexpected ways - that make perfect sense, although nobody has thought of it in that way before. He writes about (imaginary) family members and their sporting exploits. There is just about a laugh on every page, often because of the unexpectedness of the language.
BS Johnson's fifth novel, subtitled "A Geriatric Comedy", is inventive, unique and wonderfully humane. Like the rest of his hugely important and criminally overlooked work this is as funny and as profound a book as any you are ever likely to read. Consisting of eight 21-page monologues by each of the named inhabitants of an old people's home, and a final piece by the House Mother herself, Johnson, without any hint of sentimentality, draws out an evening scene in which each of the NERs (no effective relatives) suffers at the hands of the House Mother. Before the start of each monologue a CQ score is given (marking a regularly used test for senile dementia: out of 10 simple questions, such as where are you now? what day is this? the 10 answers represent compos mentis on a sliding scale to infirmity). This enables Johnson, through his usual playful use of language and typography, to represent in his writing the almost incommunicable. The old people suffer, some can barely speak, others are dominated, obsessed with particular memories that mark important failures or accomplishments, moments which resonate now daily life is so dull.
Hugh Laurie was so concerned that a publisher should genuinely fall in love with his book and not simply exploit it as yet another celebrity novel, that he got his agent to send the manuscript of THE GUN SELLER to Heinemann pseudonymously. It was only after Heinemann declared the book a comic classic that the agent revealed the true identity of the author. . . . . When Hugh Laurie was a teenager, he adored reading thrillers by authors like Alistair MacLean, THE GUN SELLER is an hilarious spoof if that tradition but wickedly updated for the Nineties.
Formally this book is a work of humour, and C Northcote Parkinson alternates between genuine and imaginary statistics and examples to back up his arguments. But as the saying goes, many a true word is spoken in jest. Anyone who aspires to a position where he or she will be trusted with responsibility for spending public money should read Parkinson's amusing accounts of how and why money can be wasted and bureacracy tend to increase. Most of the examples given, though not all, are in a British context but the arguments would apply to the need to control the costs and size of bureaucracy and administration in any company or government in whichever part of the world the reader may be.