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Global Village Idiot
ISBN 0385602936 / 9780385602938 / 0-385-60293-6
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The title of John O'Farrell's latest book, Global Village Idiot, refers not to the author, who proves far from an idiot, but to President George W Bush, whose trip to Europe in June 2001 closes this compendium of absurdly funny, journalistic pummellings. Sadly, subsequent events may now result in only edgy laughter at the witticism. In an age of ubiquitous but low-cal humour, John O'Farrell is that old-fashioned diamond, a gags man unable to write a dull line. In this, he plies a trade of satire and whimsy that combines the best of British working-men's clubs with the quick-fire, dime-a-joke New York patter that relies on fresh rather than canned humour.
Collecting 1000-word comment pieces, mainly from The Guardian and The Independent, Global Village Idiot reveals an irreverently relevant look at British and world news at the turn of the century. O'Farrell, the author of Things Can Only Get Better, a memoir of 18 grim years as a Labour Party activist ruined by the 1997 General Election triumph, and the comic novel, The Best a Man Can Get, distinguishes his soapbox pennyworths by an affirming sense of belief, and moral consequence. He may poke fun at Bush, New Labour, boarding-school parents, hopping across the wasteland of television "choice", Euro-sceptics, SAS novelists and paternity leave; he even piles further comic indignities onto Neil Hamilton and Mohammed al Fayed, despite their own high standards on that score. Yet behind the wisecracks, and consistently high chortle factor, lies more serious intent. To laugh is to be alive to the disgraces, anomalies, hypocrisies, skulduggery and double standards of modern life that impel socio-political satirists such as O'Farrell to write with such consistent pinging accuracy. Perhaps the biggest compliment is to say that if today's news is tomorrow's fish-and-chip paper, then somehow O'Farrell makes delightful macramé from it. And who knows, an article a day may help keep the spin-doctors at bay. --David Vincent [via]