Monday, 7 March 2011
Honesty Is No Barr To Success
Author William Barr is the brother of Richard Barr, the scary-looking solicitor I've mentioned once or twice before.
I'm not sure which of them is older, so I'll just make a wild stab in the dark and offer the suggestion that Big Dick popped out before Little Willy.
The Brothers Barr are both frustrated authors. Big Dick laments:
"I am a reluctant solicitor. I still have not made up my mind what I really want to do when I grow up... back in the 1980s I hit on the idea that even life in a solicitor's office might be interesting to somebody, so I started to jot down my experiences. The outcome was a series of (mainly) lighthearted articles in Solicitors Journal [sic]..."
Little Willy is still struggling to match these lofty heights of literary achievement. His first book, Real Football Real Fans: A Journey to the Heart of Football, is languishing at number 938,440 in Amazon's bestseller rankings (as of today).
His second book, The Carp Club, is doing even worse at number 1,094,876.
What can possibly explain this disappointment?
It's not that the book is unpopular with his readers. The Carp Club has attracted gushing praise from its customer reviewers - of the eight reviews so far, six of them give the book 5 stars, and the other two give the book 4 stars.
What, then, is going on?
Of course, it would be both libelous and scandalous of anyone to claim that all but one of the reviews is an obvious fake, fraudulently planted on Amazon by either the author or his associates; and I for one would never dare to utter such a scurrilous slander.
Instead, I'll just invite my readers to examine the evidence for themselves; perhaps they can work out why, of the eight "reviewers", six have only ever "reviewed" one book (namely The Carp Club) and the seventh has only ever "reviewed" two books (namely The Carp Club and Real Football Real Fans).
Review #1 by "Jonathon Barclay" (click on the image to expand it)
"Mr Barr is an angry man, and rightly so. His first book, Real Football Real Fans is a response to the absurdities and excesses of the Premier League. This one is an attack on the failings, and failures, of our political class in the context of the Parliamentary expenses scandal and the financial crisis. Plenty of readers will have sympathy with his views, but few would have the imagination and wit to express anger in the form of an elegant fable based on carp fishing. Swift and Voltaire come to mind, with an underlying touch of Orwell (lolwut?!? SLW). Mr Barr's knowledge of fishing is as impressive as his humour; the book raises a number of important contemporary political and social issues in its 170 pages, but is so well written [sic] that it is easy to underestimate its importance (not that easy - SLW). Read and enjoy."
("Jonathon Barclay" has also reviewed two books not written by Little Willy, so no-one would imagine there to be any impropriety at play in this case.)
Review #2 by "George Clare" from the fictional town of "Welling Garden City" (lolwut?!?)
"I read this book with ever growing amazement as the scales fell from my eyes. Whether William Barr becomes the cult author of the election or just another minnow in the ocean remains to be seen. But Carp Club is a whopper of a story... Tristram Shandy meets Izaac Walton. Carpery rules."
"George Clare" is the "reviewer" who has also "reviewed" Barr's first book, Real Football Real Fans. This is what he had to say:
"William Barr has given us back 3 o'clock on a Saturday afternoon football, the pools, Bob Danvers Walker and, above all pies and hot bovril. But this isn't a book of nostalgia, it's hard-nosed Division 2 where real football is alive and kicking. Take a break from the Premiership and the ghosted celebrity soccer biographies and read this lovely book. It's subtitled 'a journey to the heart of football' but it also takes you to the parts of England you may not visit every weekend - Grimsby, Mansfield, Accrington and Barnet. You'll find them full of surprises, scandals and humour. And you'll never pass Dagenham and Redbridge again with stopping for a pie or three."
Review #3 by "Maglia Rosa"
"Whether you are casting your bread upon the water or fly-fising [sic] in the Yemen this is a book for all those who take an interest in the state of the nation and its woeful lack of political leadership. Mr Barr perfectly satirises the current political debate and its dreary lack of meaningful content by setting the action in the small world of fishing clubs he knows so well."
Review #4 by "R J Winstanley"
"This timely book will tick all the boxes for those who relish sticking a knife in the fishy side of politics, but won't make casting a vote any easier. It should be compulsory reading for all MPs and barristers."
Review #5 by "A. Tagg"
"This is a book of fishes, politicians, banksters (good name for them), wretched carp poetry, and lots of jokes. It is also a serious and sometimes angry exploration of the shortcomings of our political system. The allegory of the carp club and its forthcoming election allows an entertaining story to explore serious questions in a way that might seem too heavy without the humour. What does a voter do who dislikes all of the major parties? Can John Fisher's ban the ballot campaign restore power to the voters or will the career carpist/politicians forever pursue their increasingly irrelevent [sic] quarrels without noticing that the carp have all died and the banksters have paid themselves all of the club's money? A thoughtful book and a really good read."
Review #6 by "Christopher Davy"
"This is a witty, clever and thought provoking [sic] read - and directs savage satire at our politicians and electoral system. Deeply cynical and very funny, it also raises some serious issues. It should be read by all mps and lawyers to let than know they've been busted! William Barr eloquently expresses our justifiable anger at political sleaze whilst wrapping it up in a really good read. (His blog with the short stories is also very entertaining)."
Review #7 by "Tom Hoolahan"
"I came across this book having had the author's excellent bantheballot website and blog recommended to me. It's a kind of fishy Animal Farm dealing with such well-versed themes as avaricious bankers and self-serving, ineffectual politicians but in an original, engaging and witty way. It's amusing and has an enjoyable storyline but is also pretty hard-hitting and devasting [sic] in its critique of the powers that be. The Carp Club really appealed to me because I, like many others, am feeling utterly depressed about the forthcoming election - Labour have got to go, even if the Conservatives committed themselves to any policies I wouldn't want them in charge and the Lib Dems have failed to seize the initiative in what should have been their golden opportunity to take politics in a different direction. That only leaves a protest vote for the Greens or someone as a viable option for me but there's no point really. One or the other bunch of R.S. Holes will get into power but not voting for any of them is not going to feel much better because it won't change anything. However, the book is more than the rant of an aging, disenfranchised, fishing-mad eccentric. It contains cogent and balanced arguments looking at why the current system doesn't work and is full of references to polictical [sic] history, both old and recent. Best of all, Barr actually proposes a practical, workable solution to the current morass which would divest us of our feeling of powerlessness. I won't give it away here but it does make a lot of sense. To be honest, I can't think why his proposal has not been thought of by more mainstream commentators. Of course, the policiticians would not countenance it because it is not in their interests - but then nor was reforming the expenses system until public opinion made it untenable. You never know, the Carp Club may be the seed that leads to the fundamental reform the British political system to make politics fairier [sic] and politicians more accountable. The current crop of politicians have failed to suggest any real improvement to the system - make sure you read it here first before any of them claim the credit for it! Then spread the word."
Review #8 by "Helena Bottlethwaite"
"To be honest I embarked on reading this book with a bit of trepidation, knowing little of carp fishing and politics. However, I was very soon gripped by the wonderfully strong characters, the countdown to election night and a burning curiosity to see just how the tale would unfold. Brilliantly written, Barr writes with an engaging style, brimming over with wit, intellect and punnery!! Love it. I would recommend this to anyone and everyone: it is a well written [sic] and well timed [sic] release - somebody needs to be expressing and communicating these views [but hopefully not these punctuation errors - SLW]"
P.S. If your interest has been stirred, I'd invite you all to read the first three chapters of The Carp Club, available for free on Little Willy's website. If you think you could withstand 172 more pages of his bludgeoning prose, the book is a snip at just £5.50.