Have any of you heard John Crace’s “Digested Read” podcasts for The Guardian?
I downloaded some to have on the iPod while on vacation. Upon listening to podcasts, my initial confusion over what he was doing led swiftly to annoyance and eventually to a grudging…hmm…respect may not be the right word. Something short of that.
For those of you who haven’t heard these podcasts, author John Crace (haven’t read him) gives these supposedly humorous digested versions of famous/popular books. I say supposedly humorous because they all seemed a little too snarky and crabby to be truly humorous. I perhaps made the mistake of starting with his take on The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch. I thought it would be an interesting little talk about said book but instead it was just Crace taking the piss out of the book and those that take it seriously. I found it kind of ham-handed like something a too-clever undergraduate thespian might think hilarious. He sounded like the evil vicar on Mitchell and Webb but he seemed to have pretensions at something more profound than the hilarious skits of M&W. My overall thought was “Why does he hate everything?”.
Then something happened. I listened to one of his Digested Reads of a book I didn’t love and the satire suddenly made sense. Actually I hadn’t even read the book–the gigantic bio of the Queen Mum that came out a few years ago. I probably would enjoy reading it but I still found much humour in the way Crace excoriates the author for being a fawning sycophant.
In the end, and mainly in retrospect, I kind of ended up liking the Digested Read. Just be ready to have your favorite book trashed.