The widespread cooing responses to Posy Simmonds last book, Gemma Bovary, cemented her role as the chattering classes' favourite cartoonist, so it is somewhat appropriate that a particularly vocal section of this fan club is represented in her new collection. At its best, her latest cartoon series, Literary Life, collected here, is masterful. The necessity to produce a cartoon about writers and the writing life once a week means the quality control isn't always kept, but most of the series ties up its themes attractively and often amusingly. Cue Jane Austen otherworldly dreaming of interviews by the 21st century press: 'To what extent would you say your writing is a substitute for sex?' and 'Colin Firth's lunchbox!! Tell us about it Jane. Big 'un or wot?!'From the Publisher:
This book consists of approximately fifty 'Literary Life' cartoons which were serialised weekly every Saturday in the Guardian's Review section from November 2002 until December 2004, and two short stories, 'Murder at Matabele Mansions' and 'Cinderella'.
Posy Simmonds examines the pretensions of the literary world with her customary flair for light, witty satire and social observation. Women writers suffer 'Rustic Block' after moving to the countryside, type their sexual fantasies into their laptop, and (in 'Enemies of Promise') juggle the dilemmas of feminism and motherhood. Male authors are shown suffering the ego-perils of coming into contact with the public at book signings, and complain about reviewers and 'media hoops'. Jealousies and rivalries emerge out of reading groups; struggling small booksellers have to deal with recalcitrant customers or sales reps pushing the latest celebrity book. Simmonds' penchant for literary pastiche and parody is given full rein, as in 'Murder at Matebele Mansions'. And she wickedly suggests a family's fixed smiles as a young girl explains the plot of her Harry Potter book ...
Funny, insightful and beautifully drawn, Literary Life will delight fans of Gemma Bovery.
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