I hate it when all a reviewer can come up with is a weak, whiny "It just wasn't what I expected" but this book wasn't what I expected and I think I have some justification for being disappointed. It's billed as "humor" and there is humor, but that's only a small component.
I think the biggest problem is that it's a cut-and-paste job, composed of two books that were combined. While the two books technically concern the same subject - the author's observations of post-WWII England - each is written from a different viewpoint. Bradbury was a wonderful writer and a very persuasive guy. So he convinces you of one thing and then (in the second half of the book) switches to the other side. Unless you ENJOY confusion, it doesn't add up to a satisfactory reading experience.
The author was a bright lad who moved up in the world by going to college. Not Cambridge or Oxford. He wasn't that bright and his family had no money. He was a product of what the British Upper Crust sneeringly refers to as a "red brick" university. He was clever enough to realize that Americans have great respect for an English accent and no idea of what class the speaker represents. And so he hied himself off to the American Mid-West to accept a position as an English professor.
When he returned to England, the contrast between the energetic, forward-thinking Americans and the timid, backward-looking English struck him forcibly and he wrote a book, which was published in 1960. In this book, he accuses the English of being "phogeys" - a catch-all description of someone who is both a fogey and a phoney. The English (his argument runs) were fogeys because they refused to entertain the idea that anything new could possibly be an improvement. They were phoneys because the world-order for which their mind-set was suited (i.e. the British Empire) no longer existed. He discusses the various types of phogeys of different genders, ages, and classes and it's whimsical and entertaining, although each section goes on a bit too long.
When you get to the second half of the book (which was published in 1962) he reverses course and roundly condemns modern life and its plastic, second-rate ambitions and extols traditional English life, where quality and common sense ruled supreme. It's as well-written and perceptive as the first half of the book, but not as entertaining and nowhere near as funny.
This is not really a humor book, but a sociology book. Or you could call it amateur sociological observation. Which is ironic, because the author (in both halves of the book) repeatedly expresses his contempt for sociologists and their field. But he does the same thing, only without pie charts and graphs and statistics.
He also makes cutting remarks about the inane English custom of recognizing achievement with knighthoods and about the pathetic men who covet those absurd "honors." And yet he accepted a knighthood for his contributions to literature in 2000 and died the same year. RIP Sir Malcolm. You should have trusted your instincts.
I love wry British humor, but much of this book left me cold. There are some great parts, but there's too much filler. Unless you're very patient, I can't really recommend it. On the other hand, if you want to read one intelligent man's observations about life on both sides of The Pond in the decade-and-a-half after the end of WWII, you probably couldn't do much better. Now you're on your own.
- 版本： Kindle电子书
- 文件大小： 864 KB
- 纸书页数： 208
- 出版社: Picador; Main Market (2011年7月6日)
- 语种： 英语
- ASIN: B005AV5UAY
- 标准语音朗读： 已启用
- 生词提示功能: 已启用
- 用户评分: 第一个发表评论
- 亚马逊热销商品排名: Kindle商店商品里排第374,810名 (查看Kindle商店商品销售排行榜)
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