|Format:||Hardback 256 pages|
Publication abandoned, other editions may be available
How often do you trawl through the review section of a newspaper or magazine, not so much looking for the five-star 'rave' for the latest best-selling book, film or play, but for the really rude review, full of bitter sarcasm and acidic abuse - the 'stinker'? As Gore Vidal remarked, when a friend succeeds something inside one dies, so to witness abysmal failure is the perfect consolation. Among the many masters and mistresses to feature in this treasury of tirades will be, from yesteryear, G. K. Chesterton, Graham Greene, Malcolm Muggeridge, Dilys Powell, Cyril Connolly, William 'Cassandra' Connor (whose onslaught on Liberace caused 'this deadly winking, sniggering, snuggling, chromium-plated, scent-impregnated, luminous, quivering, giggling, fruit-flavoured, mincing, ice-covered heap of mother-love' to cry all the way to the bank), Kenneth Tynan, Auberon Waugh and Sheridan Morley.Present-day practitioners of the poison pen include Philip French, Lynne Truss, Peter Ackroyd, Simon Hoggart, A. N. Wilson, Nicholas de Jongh, Jeremy Paxman, Craig Brown, Toby Young, James Delingpole - and others too humorous to mention. As Hugh Massingberd points out: 'It is an inescapable fact that the vocabulary of abuse is infinitely richer and more varied than the limited lexicon of anaemic admiration. Human nature is such that we tend to warm to people who hate the same things we do, but shy away in embarrassment from fellow enthusiasts'.
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