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What a Carve up! By Jonathan Coe

This is a full on juicy farce - a satirical look at not just the eighties but big business, the media and the damage both of them do. Using as a framework old early sixties farcical movies featuring Sid James and friends, mainly the 1961 movie "What a carve up" featuring Shirley Eaton and Kenneth Connor too at times I wasn't sure whether the writer was imagining it all! The satire takes on the look of the movie as viewed by a reclusive writer attempting to write the history of a powerful and corrupt family who are big in the Arms industry, the media, politics and factory farming. There are a lot of characters and the time frame stretches from the 40's to the 90's - the early parts of the book were at first a little confusing but it all starts to fall into place just like the old movies used to in a corny way. Don't let my lack of reviewing ability deter anyone - it’s a funny novel, very funny indeed - its razor wit when applied to the Arms Industry and the rise of Saddam Hussein in the 80's is remarkable. BSE, the Health Service the decline of quality in the media are all covered and are as fresh and relevant now as they were when it was first published in 1994 in fact there is never a dull moment and the time shifts and character subplots keep up the pace quite well. I did think whilst reading this that even I should have lost track of all the goings on but the writing is so subtle that it just moves along so smoothly that I had got through it without really having to stop and "work it out" as it were.

I am a self confessed lover of novels with any kind of eighties theme so the coverage of Thatcher's government with all the shenanigans that went on like privatisation etc went down very well with me. This isn't to say that any in depth knowledge of the time is necessary as it's all explained - knowledge of the time merely adds to the admiration of Jonathan Coe as he weaves this web of intrigue around the characters. It soon starts to resemble a whodunit in its finest form and then it get really quite funny the final chapters are ludicrous in the extreme and this adds to enjoyment. Larger than life hate characters, full on stereotypes they are all here for the asking - though even with this the narrative is never cold or formulaic. Exciting yet silly in equal measure this was an entreating and thought provoking novel indeed - I found it a thoroughly interesting read indeed.!


Blogger goldtop said...

J Coe is a great writer - have you read The House Of Sleep? v. good... thanks for writing these book reviews.. I would love to contribute but can't get further than 'that is a great / crap book' (see above!) sigh... I will leave it to the experts :)

8:14 PM


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