The Literary Saloon points to the Hatchet Job of the Year award, which goes to a review of an autobiographical work by Rachel Cusk – and which, just like last year, seems to me to have gone to the wrong contender.
I remember once reading something of Rachel Cusk (it was a short story), and it seemed as dull and uninteresting as the rest of modern literature – no, even worse – and I thought to myself then that I’d never read anything by her again. But, to be honest, this “hatchet job” makes me want to read the book; because it sounds like she has become unhinged – and that is not necessarily a bad thing for a writer.
Like last year, I would have preferred the review of the history book to have won (Richard Evans on A.N. Wilson’s Hitler biography), perhaps because – unlike fiction or autobiography – history books can be held up against some kind of objective fact; and I find this much more satisfying as a basis for ridicule. Not merely that, of course, but Wilson is a fiction writer straying onto another man’s turf: – as Evans ends his review:
the repellent arrogance of a man who thinks that because he’s a celebrated novelist, he can write a book about Hitler that people should read, even though he’s put very little work into writing it and even less thought.
Whereas Cusk can’t, in truth, be held to be wrong about the “brittle little dominatrix and peerless narcissist” that she portrays herself to be.