If you have watched any BBC tv recently, you will have seen the trailer for World Book Night “A Whole Night of Books”. Well hooray for that, but let’s not get too excited when we think about how many nights of reality tv, sport, sport and well, sport we have to put up with for the rest of the year. I think that the last big night of book related programming was the Big Read in 2003. So, I suppose we should be grateful…
I have watched and enjoyed “My Life in Books” over the past week or so. I must admit that I wondered about Anne Robinson doing it; she apparently is not a great reader. But somehow the programmes have worked. PD James and Richard Bacon was very watchable, and Sister Wendy more than held her own. Sue Perkins was very watchable and funny; she would make an excellent host if they ever repeated the idea. While they are still on iplayer they are worth watching, if only for the weird and wonderful books shown.
The other programme that is book related and has been loudly trumpeted is “Faukes on Fiction” presented by the author Sebastian Faulks. I watched each programme and have read the book.
The book is in the same format as the tv programmes, looking at Heroes, Lovers, Snobs and Villains, being 7 characters from 7 novels in each section. I was interested that I had read most of the books, even the “Mount Everest” that is Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa. I was a bit confused though, why he chose the headings that he did. Heroes and villains perhaps, but snobs? Some of the novels themselves were a bit unusual as not really being representative, and equally not outstanding. The emphasis on Money in the first episode was rather off putting as I really did not believe in his argument that it showed the death of the hero, and yet not the arrival of a fully formed anti hero. There are so many white male writers here, and the merest nod in the direction of an Austen, a Bronte, so far, so predictable. I have read all of the Raj Quartet, but really I’m not sure that it merited inclusion in this selection. I suppose the other thing that I found annoying was the prospect of Faukes striding around tropical beaches, New York (or wherever) and India discussing the books. I enjoyed the mainly BBC clips and could follow what he was saying about Robinson Crusoe without him being on a beach. I realise that these programmes and the book are the result of a lot of work, but they were disappointing. Again iPlayer is still showing the entire series; what do you think?