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'The bit inside was even better' - The Ex-Communicator

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June 1st, 2010

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09:33 am - 'The bit inside was even better'
I am not, to say the least, a fan of Jeremy Clarkson. However, I like this article in The Times. Looking for something to read on the beach he accidentally bought 'The Road'. Like the secret agent in Das Leben der Anderen, exposure to art makes something stir within. He enjoyed it so much he compares it to a BMW 135i (I am assuming that's a type of car):

It's by a chap called Cormac McCarthy, it’s called The Road and it’s just been made into a film... The cover was good. It looked intelligent. But the bit inside was even better. It begins with a man and a boy walking down a road in cold weather. And it ends with a man and a boy walking down a road in cold weather. In between, not much happens. But it was brilliant. Even though it is not much thicker than a pamphlet and no longer than a warning notice on a train’s lavatory door, it took me nearly a week to read. I kept going back over some of the phrases thinking: “That didn’t work.” But they do work.

I’m not sure Cormac McCarthy would be much fun as a dinner guest and neither would I seek his company after the death of a loved one or a family pet, but, God Almighty, the man can write. I read the damn thing on a beach in Barbados and it made me feel so cold I had to go and get a jumper.

My wife thought I’d gone mad. So she read it when I’d finished and when she got to the end she went and sat by herself for a while and sobbed.

Not everyone will have heard of The Road or its author. It’s a hidden jewel. It sits in the bookshops like the BMW 135i sits in the dealership.

To what extent is this a late-stage fine-tuning of his persona, and to what extent is it the account of real experience? I was being faux-naive when I said 'I assume that's a kind of car'. Is he being faux-naive when he calls the text 'the bit inside'? OK, that's an easy one - yes he is, for a laugh. Anyway, an interesting little extension of the Clarkson franchise.

(6 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:June 1st, 2010 02:26 pm (UTC)
I know. I am not sure whether he is pretending to be a person quite unaware of literature, hence it's all obscure to him?

On the BMW, he continues:

'It sits in the bookshops like the BMW 135i sits in the dealership: a genuine pearl, lost in a sea of razzmatazz and Day-Glo promises... it’s the most faithful BMW of them all. Simple. Six-cylinder engine up front. Rear drive. It’s built for the road. It is The Road.'

So, perhaps he is saying it hides in plain sight. There are a million books, and most are razzmatazz Andy McNab.
[User Picture]
Date:June 2nd, 2010 07:33 am (UTC)
I don't mind Clarkson. I think he sees it as his mission to rail against all forms of greyness and unthinking conformity, and has figured out that the easiest way to get his message across is to be deliberately offensive and boorish towards his targets. And if there's some collateral damage along the way, so much the better because this gets more attention. You're supposed to look at the overall intent of what he's saying rather than the actual things he says. I surmise.

I get the impression he genuinely liked the book, but decided no one would pay any attention if he just said so in a straightforward way. So he had to somehow funnel his admiration for it through his public persona.

[User Picture]
Date:June 2nd, 2010 08:29 am (UTC)
I agree; I do think he liked the book, and was expressing it very cleverly. What I am left wondering is whether Mr Clarkson regularly reads books of this kind, but has pretended not to, or whether he is just now discovering a new world of literature. In which case he might find his world views changing, which will be interesting to see.

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