Whatever It Is, I Don’t Like It

Howard Jacobson. Bloomsbury, $18 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-1-60819-798-9
Drawing his title from an old Groucho Marx joke in A Night at the Opera, Man Booker Prize–winner Jacobson (The Finkler Question) gathers a selection of his columns since 1998 from the Independent, in no particular order. With wry humor, razor-sharp observations about human nature, and an insouciant wink-and-grin at the many and busy little dramas that make up everyday life, he reflects on a coterie of subjects ranging from men’s fashion (“The Chatfield Pant”), Aboriginal musicals (“Corrugation Road”), and “Leonard Cohen in Concert” to the pleasures and pitfalls of reading (“Books Are Bad for You”) and dining out alone (“Dining Out Solus”). In “If It’s ‘Readable’ Don’t Read It,” he reports on a neuroscientist whose experiments have proved that reading Shakespeare is a worthwhile endeavor; now, Jacobson cagily observes, “it would be fun to have scientific proof of what we know: that simple books make simpletons. And limpid prose is sure to leave us limp of mind.” In “The Twentieth Century? Tosh,” he skewers the attempt of some in every age who feel bound to try to break the mold, to live within and without society. No sooner do we fight authority, Jacobson reminds us, than we create a new version of it. “Our fate: we are never to be free.” Jacobson’s staccato style carries the narrative through flights of fancy, tales of misadventure, character sketches, and pauses for reflection. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/2011
Release date: 02/28/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 384 pages - 978-1-60819-797-2
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