Thursday, December 03, 2009

Christmas books: Madame Arcati's supremely discriminating gift guide


The white beard you can keep, but Madame Arcati is happy to recommend a few books as gifts this Christmas. Unlike certain other media types who take their cues from old buddies in orthodox publishing, Madame Arcati does not discriminate between the self-published and the unself-published and the vanity published: I do not need the approbation of mediating editors to tell me whether a book is worthy of publication. I'll decide, thank you.

My few titles come under two categories: the recommended are under Tomes for the Tights (aren't stockings rather Joan Collins these days?) and the worthless mingers under Tomes for the Cheese Grater (I was shocked to learn that the slave kids of Haiti are punished by being forced to kneel on cheese graters). As I wrote in the below post, shredding a pointless book with your cheese grater (1) promotes wellbeing and (2) creates debris useful for rodent litter or snow in one's Nativity tableau (vivant or toy), as recommended by a reader who put Madonna's Sex book to this excellent use. All Tights titles are hyperlinked for easy purchase; all Cheese Grater titles you can find for yourself. So ....

Tomes for the Tights

Roger Lewis' Seasonal Suicide Notes: My Life as it is Lived is an absolute must this Yuletide - by far the funniest memoirs published in years. Even his father's terminal "bum cancer" is framed by comic poignancy - ideal for those contemplating copping out at the Dignitas death camp in Muslim-hating Switzerland.

As comic, but set exotically, is Duncan Fallowell's travel book Going As Far As I Can, the pb of which came out in August. We head for the trog-world of New Zealand in the company of a merciless champion of Western secular culture: the resultant clash of aesthetics (and phwoar of cock-cockings) is both pyrotechnical and exhilarating. DF's prose is the bastard child of an aristo-plebby one-nighter. Reading him is like being fucked at an egalitarian orgy.


As creator of the cock-cunting and cunting-cock neoligisms, it's only right then that Madame Arcati recommends the German title Vulva by Mithu M Sanyal.  The vulva is one of history's Cinderellas - feared, ignored, abused. Yet today we have the designer "yoni puppets" to pat and stroke. What could these be? Well, learn German and find out and delve into the history of the vulva, bitches.

An Arcati fave is the ever notorious Farah Damji and her glorious, playfully-titled autobiography Try Me. It is both mea culpa (frauds, darling) and breathtaking tease: in one chapter she mocks the naive for falling for her pose in the redemptive confessional: as if! Its dishonesties are likely subtle, between the lines; in grey areas. Her story as told feels broadly true. Media, sex, drugs, slebs, jail - they're all here. Trashy novel content in classy narrative.

And for total teeth-chattering joy do buy Jonathan King's memoirs 65 My Life So Far, which I shall review shortly. How could I not like a book that favourably name-checks this blog on p570? We all know what JK was done for: over-worked cock-cunting newspaper scrotes have decreed a persecution. Yet this book is an immense surprise: gossipy, revealing, insightful, scandalous, huge fun. A recommended gift for the multi-millionaire maiden aunt who refuses to die and whose legacy you impatiently await. She'll die usefully with a pre-rot rictus on her wrinkled mug. You won't be charged with her homicide.

Me: The Authorised Biography by Byron Rogers is the blissful tale of how one of Britain's most stylish writers became the object of an intense infatuation: Does Mr Rogers have a cock as big as that of his former employer, Prince Charles? The title may or may not reveal all.


For cookery lovers, may I introduce you to the Rt Hon The Countess of Shannon alias the global mystic guru, Almine. A few years ago Almine gave up her life of ermined British privilege and turned into an international goddess served by angels. So who better to pass down tips on puff pastry? She has two titles: Cooking with Class and Memoirs & Meals (click here). Makes Nigella and Delia look like the raucous lower class cook Mrs Bridges in Upstairs, Downstairs.

Shena Mackay's The Atmospheric Railway: New and Selected Stories was released in late 2008 but who cares? A more wonderfully surreal short story writer you will not find: her quirks are encoded not manufactured: queerness and peculiarity run through her soul. She is most otherly. I want more, more, more.

Philip Hoare's Leviathan gets it wrong on sperm whales - no,they cannot swallow a grown man. Never mind. His prosaic quest to commune with the warm blooded spurters of the seas helps to cutefy the whale kingdom: a species to be protected must first have the ah factor.

Interior designer Nicky Haslam's memoir Redeeming Features reports that Wallis Simpson's Edward was once a bisexual drag artist and that Lord Snowdon cock-cocked with the author. Wallis herself may have been hermaphrodite because her maid once whispered that the old girl's knickers were stained with urine always at the front. Gorgeous society flim-flam in which people merge at times with their stylish inanimate objects. So that at one point I became convinced Tallulah Bankhead was a wallpaper.

For the less demanding, Katie Price's novel Sapphire should not be scorned: her ghost writer Rebecca Farnworth is as smart as they come, weaving in sly digs at her subject (Katie Price aka Jordan) in a fictionalisaton of the tabloid-trimmed life that requires dark orange model flesh topped up daily by 18-minute sessions in a carcinogenic sunbed. Simply mindlessly thrilling, dearies.


A few months back I reviewed the novel Dazed & Aroused by handsome male model Gavin James Bower. I hadn't read the book and still haven't but I don't see why that should inhibit me from recommending the British version of Brett Easton Ellis' Glamorama. Your OK!-reading brats will adore it - I believe Kate Moss has a walk-on part, but I don't know. Perhaps someone will confirm or correct.

And finally, the "psychic barber" Gordon Smith has a book out titled Why Bad Things Happen. Why was my pet pussy run over by a cripple in his fucking cripple car? That question is not asked or answered, more's the pity (for that's what happened to my Prudence aka Pruce), yet this famous medium tries to shed light on the question of misfortune's purpose, with insights on the next life. Derren Brown is a very poor substitute for this sort of thing.

Tomes for the Cheese Grater

Clive James' The Blaze of Obscurity: The TV Years is fatally hobbled by its author's incessant need to remind us of how brilliant/famous he is. Whether working through Linguaphone to read a classic in its original tongue or telling us why he deigned to take a phone call from Tina Brown, his book reeks of a clever juvenile wanker locked in a mirrored closet.


The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution is Richard Dawkins' latest piece of propaganda against faiths - even though his brand of science is akin to faith, such is his messianic zeal to mix facts with popular theories. Though Dawkins reviles all divination, he has never researched such lowly topics as palmistry or mediumship. Very scientific!

Some time back I wrote an affectionate item about a strange little one-man industry called Chas Newkey-Burden. He churns out about half a dozen books a year - many of them in the genre of listerature. Since then the Julie Burchill once-time co-writer and right-wing squirt has foolishly picked an argument with me, so the first casualty of this is all his books. Let's see:  Simon Cowell: The Unauthorised Biography; Amy Winehouse: The Biography; Michael Jackson: Legend 1958-2009: all manically churned mayfly productions that suffer expiry after a brief fuck of publicity. The sound of a writer is tap tap. The sound of Chas is snip snip.

Illusionist Derren Brown is quite a talented caricaturist as his book Portrait demonstrates. However, his demeanour irritates me. He should not be encouraged.

Worst, most successful writer in the world Dan Brown released The Lost Symbol this year as part of his mission to keep Tom Hanks busy. His quasi-mystical thrillers are rutted with awful clangers: is the Pope a Protestant?

Most pointless book ever is The Atheist's Guide to Christmas by Ariane Sherine. Silly cunts like Richard Dawkins, Charlie Brooker, Derren Brown, Ben Goldacre, Jenny Colgan, David Baddiel, Simon Singh, AC Grayling, Brian Cox and Richard Herring contribute their tips both serious and not. Yet for most, Christmas is already just a secular exchange of gifts, with carol song as sentimental soundtrack to retail park festive forage. No real need for a Church of Atheism, then.

Though a late 2008 release, foodie tome Table Talk: Sweet And Sour, Salt and Bitter by the Sunday Times writer AA Gill affords an opportunity to remind people that he recently shot dead a baboon, to see what killing a primate was like, or at least he made this claim in a restaurant review. The minor Twitter controversy this provoked must have disappointed the fathead ligger.

Stephen Fry in America (pb out last May) and its TV series may have persuaded the cultural Zelig to piss off to LA. If he goes, re-cut 'n' paste this under Tights. Job well done.


I detest family photo albums so why the pompously titled Gore Vidal: Snapshots in History's Glare should be an exception I do not know. Should it not be titled Snapshots in History's Footnotes? The cover pic of young handsome Gore is very Freeman's catalogue: longevity is his undoing.

Last and least, a title can ruin a book for me. Ant and Dec's Ooh! What a Lovely Pair: Our Story is very Mike and Bernie Winters. Get it out of here!

38 comments:

Mick Farren said...

Frances Lynn's "Frantic" is in my stocking this year. She's a fucking good writer, she has a few bad habits but they could be beaten out of her. I'm really impressed and want more.

Anonymous said...

I'm telling Chas about you.

Green Goddess said...

Darling I thought you LIKED Julie? And you worry about me getting my earlobes pulled and Chinese torture in the playground from those Decima Pigs? Sorry Dogs?
Thanks so much you are my fave rave too you old sexy tart. You still didn't tell me if Molly said we could get married? Or at least elope? Seasons joy and goodwill and all Darling MA. X

Frances Lynn said...

And I thought your "Adventures of Jim Morrison in the After Life" was magnificently barmy too!'

Anonymous said...

I hear that Duncan Fallowell is bringing out a little book for 2012 called MUFF DIVING SHOULD BE AN OLYMPIC SPORT. Am salivating already.

Anonymous said...

You can't contain your spite even at Christmas you fucking loser.

Madame Arcati said...

I adore Julie but no one tells me who's the star and who's the hanger-on. Can you imagine?

The late Bosie said...

Mike and Bernie Winters! Surely, Madame, you are too old to know of them.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to you I have wanked myself silly over Gavin James Bower. Expect a writ for negligence.

Madame Arcati said...

To Mick Farren, am I not right in thinking Frances based a character on you? I have read Frantic and agree it's a superb fiction.

Anonymous said...

is that Prince Chas?

Madame Arcati said...

I don't know (non-Prince) Chas personally but he reminds me of one those characters in Private Eye's It's Grim Up North London.

Ena B Maxwell said...

Your comment on Dignitas is absolutely tasteless. Keep it up.

Gavin James Bower said...

Kate Moss is mentioned in Dazed & Aroused, but that's it.

Sorry to disappoint.

@Anonymous Should I be flattered? Because I am.

Madame Arcati said...

I now have a copy of Dazed & Aroused and propose to read it between Christmas and New Year. I have written to Naim referring him to my Christmas list, and another matter. x

Madame Arcati said...

And Gavin I do apologise for the tasteless comment by the masturbator above. Such persons are the blight of my life.

BR said...

Dunno if Charles has a big dick but he has huge hands.

Anonymous said...

Is that true about Jordan?

Madame Arcati said...

True about her the ghost writer or her tanning? Both true.

Anonymous said...

What happened with Julie Burchill? I thought you were a fan? Did you tread on her lower lip?

The Second Coming said...

And I still want to know why the Roger Lewis interview has been removed.

Madame Arcati said...

Nothing happened with Julie. I fell out with Chas, tho' to be honest we never exactly fell in: I've never met this hive of steroid activity. Julie so far as I can tell is amused by the tiffs of her friends and watches on as a latterday Nero.

However, Madame Arcati herself tends to fickleness and revision, and while she is happy to dance attendance on exalted personages, there comes a moment when one must simply sit down.

I hope that answers it, dearie. x

Madame Arcati said...

It's having a rest, to increase its value.

Anonymous said...

The Try Me blurb attributed to the Evening Standard is false. ES did not say any of that.

Christina Lindsay said...

Your book arrived this week. I must make a start on it. I'm now going to buy Try Me, Redeeming Features, Dazed & Aroused, Frantic and may throw in the Byron Rogers too on your recommendation. I'll give the cheese grater list a wide berth. Thank you Madame xx

Madame Arcati said...

Excellent, Christina. You exhibit a taste few possess - and congratulations on your blogging assignment for Love magazine. xx (Goodness knows what you will make of my novel: it's not fiction as we know it.

Anonymous said...

Weren't you going to interview Shena Mackay, you lazy tart?

Madame Arcati said...

I beg your pardon! I just haven't got round to doing it, just as certain interviewees manque have not returned my questionnaires.

Madame Arcati said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Madame Arcati said...

Re Farah Damji, I can't find that specific quote in ES, but in a ES interview with her, Alison Roberts wrote:

"There are drugs and drug-dealing, prison and escape and, yes, high glamour both here and in New York. How much of it we can believe isn't clear, as Damji's chequered past makes her a very unreliable narrator. But her version of her own life is compelling."

I may be wrong but the endorsement could be a puffing paraphrasis - standard practice, as movie PRs well know.

Not Geordi Grieg said...

"An autobiography that shocks, appals, sucks one into its consistently amoral world and then spits one out at the end dry-mouthed. Damji's book is intelligent, gutsy, full of paradox, and quite unlike any other account of the immigrant experience. "

From the Evening Standard
http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/lifestyle/article-23719750-confessions-of-londons-most-dangerous-woman.do

Anonymous said...

Shena Mackay is very withdrawn

Madame Arcati said...

Shena is a Gemini and therefore withdrawn and a raver.

The Pricey said...

Thanks doll

Anonymous said...

Your cheese grater idea is brilliant. I've just grated an ancient copy of JP Donleavy's The Onion Eaters. I don't know why but I felt good afterwards.

Anonymous said...

Haven't Gary Glitter and Foxy Knoxy written autobiogs you can add to your murky recommendations?

Josh Spero said...

I shall take this list down to Daunt Books and see which of them grace their shelves. (But I'll wear a mask, just in case they do have Jonathan King's.)

Madame Arcati said...

Darling Josh, I command you to go to Daunts and demand in a loud voice, "I would like a copy of Jonathan King's memoirs - whaddya mean you haven't a copy, sir?"