Saturday, October 17, 2009

How not to start an article

Discovered, today, in The Guardian: the gratingly gauche opening of Will Self's article on Roald Dahl (on the occasion of the release of Wes Anderson's The Fantastic Mr. Fox):

A few months ago, I was coming out of the lavatory at Maison Bertaud, a fusty old patisserie in Soho, when I saw the familiar full-moon face of Simon Callow – actor, playwright, director, indeed all round homme de théâtre – eclipsing the window.

Need I say more? This sentence essentially killed the article for me. "A fusty old patisserie in Soho" my arse!

Of course, alarm bells should have started ringing when I read the article's subheading:

Roald Dahl's children's books are full of barely submerged misogyny, lust and violence.

Well, duh!, Will "Rip van Winkle" Self (or whatever 12-year old subeditor is responsible for this bracing display of le lieu commun). Where have you spent the last two and a half decades? Next thing you know we'll be encountering the path-breaking revelation that Alien is brimfull with Freudian undertones.

Now, who'd have guessed?


Kris said...

The byline 'Will Self' would have done it for me!

The Wife said...

Oh, don't be unfair Kris - Will Self ain't half bad as a writer.

And apparently he was a rather cool cat before he became famous. We have a friend who, in the 1970s, inspected playgrounds for the Greater London Council together with him. Self wrote a story about that, called "I'm the King of the Bouncy Castle".

Good thing he hadn't published anything major at that point. They would have never let him near children.

Kris said...

I'll be honest and confess that the early-90s middle class heroin chic that he seemed to court put me off his stuff from the very beginning.