Saturday, 5 September 2009

A Vicious Circle by Amanda Craig

DATE PUBLISHED: 1996 DATE READ: September 2009 NOTES: Amanda Craig shows and amazing insight into the world of writing and publishing. A Vicious Circle is inhabited with journalists, literary agents, media moguls, editors and publicists. It is written with great verve and skill with well-rounded characters – few of which emerge as unflawed human beings. Many are shown as selfish, egotistical and, let’s face it, vicious. The most sympathetic character is Grace, a single parent living on a run-down estate and eking out a living by babysitting and cleaning. Some characters are depicted as quite monstrous – but at the same time are quite believable. Mary Quinn, an Irish waitress, is introduced to the world of book reviewing by her lover and takes to it like a duck to water. But she soon becomes as cruel and revengeful as many others and uses her reviewing as a weapon of choice rather than as a way of sharing literary insights. At the beginning of the book is the launch party for a travel book written by Max de Monde’s daughter, Amelia. She is a “celebrity” - beautiful, vain and lazy but has still managed to get a book published – just as in real life! Without wishing to give the plot away her character was one of the surprises of the plot…. Some of the writing is very funny. When Mary queries as to whether some reviewers don’t actually read the whole book she is told: “Good heaven, no. Skim, my darling, skim…..reviewers are paid far too little for it to be worth their while.” Craig also has some lovely observations. She refers to infants in their buggies with the rain covers on as “boil-in-the-bag progeny”. A great read made even better by Amanda Craig’s acid wit and sharp observations. And there is even a redemptive ending – how good is that?

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