Wednesday, 4 March 2015


I'm reading a very funny book at the moment (mostly in the interstices between reading other, less funny, books). It's called Francis Plug: How to Be A Public Author, in which the eponymous anti-hero - gardener and would-be author - door-steps literary luminaries at various author events. Each chapter is prefixed by a picture of a book's title page, signed 'to Francis Plug from [author].

Francis is a singular character - I'm not at all sure I can do justice to his rather dubious appeal. It takes a few chapters for the book's subversive humour to get under your skin, but by the time Francis Plug, with a satchel slung across him full of manure from the Queen's horses adding an extra hum to his whisky-sodden trampiness, is marauding John Berger, you're hooked. I'm not sure Plug is one of the great literary comic creations, but the whole thing is so brilliantly, barkingly bonkers, it makes for original and entertaining satire. 

Plug's interior monologue occasionally veers off into delusion and hallucination so you're never quite sure of the line between eccentricity and mental illness. He's vividly drawn as the kind of plastic carrier bag carrying book-event going individual you'd rather die than sit next to, the smelly bus nutter. 

Anyway, below, is one of the more benign  musings of Francis Plug - 

Another big debate currently is whether digital books will replace physical books. Personally, I don’t think so. Wearing a digital watch was cool when I was a kid, and where are they now? My own theory is that digital books were actually designed by NASA for astronauts, to reduce bulk. The galaxy is also very dark, and digital books light up. But they’ve stopped the space shuttle missions now because they’re too expensive and they keep blowing up. This has left the digital book suppliers with a warehouse full of the things that they can’t shift, so now they’re trying to flog them to everyday earthlings.

[with thanks to Andy Miller - author of The Year of Reading Dangerously - for bringing Plug to my attention]

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