Call me old fashioned but I find something untoward about North (or any) Americans following the various activities and up dates of the House of Windsor. Apparently the Revolutionary War was not really revolutionary and we (meaning Americans) are still in thrall to the British monarchy.Of course,what does one make of rumors being floated that (U.S.) Vogue editor and fashion Tsarina Anna Wintour is being considered for various ambassadorial positions (namely France an Britain? No doubt Tina Brown’s appointment cannot be far behind.
Well, with such silliness afoot it does provide support for the old saw about truth, strangeness and fiction.
Scapegoat: A History of Blaming Other People Charlie Campbell (Overlook) is, me thinks, an odd duck of a book on the face of it and as I hoped when I started to investigate this newly pubklished title it had given rise to at least one enjoyable-to-read and illuminating notice— happily just such a one exists — in The Literary Review provided by Francis Wheen( Strange Days Indeed: The Golden Age of Paranoia,):
Who could resist a book with such a subtitle? ‘I can see why they’ve asked you to review it,’ my other half said. She is a saintly figure who seldom if ever apportions blame, whereas my instinct when misfortune befalls me – lost socks, slipped discs, curdled mayonnaise – is to ask which blithering idiot was responsible, since it certainly wasn’t me.
Back in the 1970s an editor advised me that there were only two angles worth pursuing on any story from economic crises to plane crashes: ‘we name the guilty men’, and ‘arrow points to defective part’. But my habit was probably inculcated long before that. As Charlie Campbell says, most of us develop it very early in life. Anyone with children will know the universal refrain of squabbling siblings: ‘He started it!’.
The word ‘history’ in the subtitle might suggest a systematic and scholarly progression through the centuries, but Campbell’s delicious little book is something far more beguiling: a ruminative essay by a witty and perceptive author who has no fear of chronological leaps or whimsical digressions. ‘In the beginning there was blame,’ he writes. ‘Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the serpent and we’ve been hard at it ever since.’ By the next paragraph we’re already on to Marx (who blamed the capitalist system), Dawkins (religion), Freud (sex) and Dr Atkins, the diet guru (the potato).
Currently reading Best European Fiction 2013 edited by Aleksandar Hemon (Dalkey Archive)