Laugh of the day is the news that the Observer’s court fool, Jasper Gerard, is writing his first novel. Apparently it’s a comic tale about terrorism, an unpromising incongruity that may be described as Gerard-esque; or simply as typical. But as he tells the London Evening Standard's media gossip: “A bit of English lampooning is the best way we have of undermining the terrorists.” I like the "bit of" bit.
While it is entirely possible that Gerard’s book will strike terror in your average Al-Qaeda operative, perhaps seeking a little light relief between internet bomb-making courses, I predict that, if published, it will more likely undermine any decent reader’s will to live, mine especially. It’s not that one wishes Gerard to fail, you understand. It’s that one knows he cannot do comedy, as his execrable and ham-fisted Observer column demonstrates each week. An ape in a Murano glass shop might exhibit greater finesse.
I tend to think of lampoonery as light-hearted satire or caricature, as in National Lampoon. It will be interesting to see how Gerard renders absurdity absurd ... in a giggly way. TerrorLit tends to the heavy: Conrad’s The Secret Agent – I think the first novel about modern suicide bombers, published in 1907 – reflected on terrorism but actually satirised England; Dostoevsky in The Possessed nailed bourgeois resentment as embryo of “terrorism”; Don DeLillo in Mao II demonstrates how the terrorist now has the power to sculpt the “inner life of the culture”, whatever that is.
Conrad, Dostoevsky, DeLillo ... Gerard. No, doesn't quite work, does it? Wrong literary genome. But at least the Observer will review him (if he's still in their employ at the time of publication).