Fans of Matt Beaumont's hilarious first novel will pick up its successor The Book, The Film, The T-Shirt with some trepidation (can he pull it off again?), but rarely has a follow-up been so sharp and enjoyable. And not only has Beaumont triumphantly bucked the "disappointing second novel" trend: this sardonic and grimly funny book many not be as innovative as its predecessor, but it's every bit as cutting-edge, with just as diverting a cast of larger-than-life characters.
The central premise here is the following of one week in the filming of a tyre commercial. Greg Fuller has negotiated the dangerous waters of the ad business for some time, and he's convinced that the script he has come up with to sell his client's round chunks of black rubber will blow everyone away (not least as he has been setting up some prestigious Hollywood stars to appear in the ad). But (of course) things quickly go pear-shaped. The director is a volatile primadonna, the client is as much of an idiot as everyone who has hired Greg in the past, and the two stars, a much-loved TV couple, cordially detest each other. The recipe for disaster is in place, and, boy, does Matt Beaumont deliver. Ten years ago, readers turned to Tom Sharpe for the kind of bitter, sexually graphic humour that informs every paragraph here. But Beaumont is Tom Sharpe for the modern age: his cold-eyed, all-stops-out vision of the media world and its denizens is an absolute scream. And how many books can boast a talking foetus? --Barry Forshaw