Endless Joke by David Antrobus
A review by R J Dent
David Antrobus is an author waiting to be discovered. Dissolute Kinship, his 9/11 travelogue-journal, is moving and profound; Endless Joke, his writer’s manual, is useful, informative, entertaining and sometimes irritating.
As David Antrobus says: ‘Endless Joke is twenty nine chapters; it’s a paean to and a diatribe against the current book-industry climate… a handbook on how to be writers, but also on how to be publishers, editors, designers, typesetters, formatters, advertisers and publicists. It’s a hybrid of writer’s manual and (pop) cultural commentary… informative, sweet and gleaming with a lifetime’s love of the language.’
David Antrobus’ facility with language is superb. His style is literary but also conversational, which sounds like a contradiction, but isn’t. He also has the ability to find humour in subjects not necessarily considered funny.
Although Endless Joke is, on the surface, aimed at readers who are (or are aspiring to be) writers, authors, or editors, much of this book would be of interest to those who are interested in the life of a writer, or those fascinated in the minutiae of the publishing world and how it is changing, or even those who are generally interested in literature and language.
Endless Joke is a series of stand-alone essays on writing, some originally written for Indies Unlimited, some for The Migrant Type, which is David Antrobus’ blog, and many others specifically written for this book. It is reminiscent of Hunter S. Thompson’s The Great Shark Hunt, a great collection of essays by Thompson, many of them about the process of journalistic writing as well as the subject they claim to be about. David Antrobus has achieved something similar to Thompson in Endless Joke; he has managed to write an illuminating writer’s guide, a critique of the writing business, and a hymn of praise to the writing process.
Endless Joke is a very well put-together collection of articles/essays that have been edited and organized into an incredibly useful reference format which will, most likely appeal to the aspiring writer and the experienced author. Endless Joke (the title) is a reference that David Antrobus explains in the introduction to the book. The essays cover a wide range of subjects, yet seem to make a coherent whole.
Endless Joke is a very enjoyable, thoughtful, well-written and entertaining read. It is also great value in terms of insights and tips for writers. I enjoyed reading Endless Joke very much and recommend it unreservedly to anyone interested in writing and writers.
David Antrobus’ work can be found here:
R J Dent is a poet, novelist, translator, essayist, short story writer, researcher, blogger and creative writing tutor. Details of his books can be found at: www.rjdent.com