The Digested Read by John Crace

Any day now I will be crushed by the teetering stack of books beside my computer that I’ve read but not yet reviewed here. Hopefully that will happen before I get around to Julian by Gore Vidal.

Anyhow, unwilling to break with tradition and downright frightened at the thought of approaching the Stack, I feel compelled to mention The Digested Read by John Crace. A regular column in The Guardian books section, The Digested Read is the anti-hype answer to the publishing world’s gushing. It creates a bit of balance. In the columnist’s words:

The idea of rewriting a book in the style of the author in just 500 or so words is a gift to any satirist, and it remains the only outlet in the print media where publishers’ hype always gets treated with the irreverence it deserves.

The basic premise for the Digested Read is that it should be the book that has created the most media noise that week.

I’ve always had a great deal of admiration for parody and satire as it takes a great deal of writerly skill and wit to pull off. Besides which, when done well nothing is more hilarious. John Crace is not always brilliant, but is nevertheless an enjoyable and necessary voice in today’s media-mad world.

This from the re-write of Life Class by Pat Barker:

They lay on the dingy bed as the trains rattled past the window. “My husband will kill us,” Teresa said nonchalantly. “Look, he’s even written me a note to that effect.”

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One Response to “The Digested Read by John Crace”

  1. Rob
    September 30th, 2007 20:10

    You’re right, The Digested Read is terrific. Apart from the format and the humour, it’s also one of the very few places where the reviewer pays any attention to the writer’s technique. Most other newspaper reviews seem to look at the themes, and the cultural context of the book, and whether it ties in with the reviewer’s favourite module from their literature degree, but they don’t give any indication of how the writers actually, well, write.

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