I confess I am rarely called upon to review books. One or two people have hinted that my reviews reveal the acerbic side of my character, a charge I vehemently deny.
Others say that I have a tendency to dwell lovingly on my own exploits and somehow overlook the merits of the writer whose work I am supposed to be reviewing. Obviously this is nonsense.
Would the poet who managed to convince Port Naain society to accept a gangster’s moll as one of their own fall into that trap? To be fair, she was the moll of a very socially acceptable gangster and a sharp lady on her own account. She mixed very nicely with the other ladies, and many sought her advice when they had problems with domestic staff, unwanted suitors or similar.
Indeed I have been a pillar of the literary scene in Port Naain for a number of years. I have won my place through dint of sheer hard work and undoubted excellent. Whenever a scapegoat is wanted the cry now goes up, “Send for Steelyard.”
But still, back to this book. I realise that rustic anecdotes where wily townsfolk outwit ignorant and superstitious peasants are a legitimate part of an accepted genre. It does strike me on reading this short volume that Webster has gone out of his way to subvert the genre. Indeed there are places where one might feel compelled to pause for contemplation. This is not a habit I feel should be encouraged. Patrons deep in contemplation rarely remember to tip the performer.
On the positive side he does write nicely about dogs, perhaps if he could be encouraged to concentrate on this element of his work it might find a wider readership?
The main problem with this volume is that whenever I read it, I hear his voice. The mangled consonants, quavering vowels of uncertain utility, and an accent so thick it makes the whole sound like some sort of thieves argot.
To be fair, I did try to help him. I encouraged him to perform his work, to seek out a circle of patrons who would support him. Not my patrons obviously, they are persons of exquisite taste, but surely there can be no shortage of bawdy house keepers and purveyors of patent medicines who would be delighted to drop a few coins into his tentatively proffered cap!
The other problem is his dress sense. To be honest, one reason I have not attempted to get him invites into the best houses is that he inevitably presents himself at the front door dressed like the sort of tinker who will botch the mending of your kettle, then return later to burgle you.
I did hint, I even suggested a tailor, but frankly he looks as if he was the last person to dress in a cheap doss house.
Still, he has written something new. If you purchase it, he’ll probably stop whinging and I can get on with doing some proper work of mine own!