Amy Reads Books

Scoop (Penguin Modern Classics)

Scoop - Evelyn Waugh, Christopher Hitchens The random number generator seemed to have second time lucky, as it puled up Scoop as my next novel to read. It also seemed somewhat relevant what with the phone-hacking scandal that has been sweeping the UK, and seems to be touching America too.The novel opens following John Boot, an explorer who has written a number of books, visiting his patron Mrs Stitch. She agrees to help him get a position on popular paper The Daily Beast, and Lord Cooper, the owner seems to agree. However, there is a bad mix-up in the office and John Boot is confused with William Boot, who writes the kind of ‘country life’ sections of the paper. William is then whisked off to a country he’s never been to and has to suddenly get good at journalistic practices he’s never needed before.This book was laugh-out-loud funny at certain parts, and I think I’ve come to the conclusion (granted, after only 3 of Waugh’s books) that I prefer his slightly disconnected third-person narrative voice (also seen in Vile Bodies) as opposed to the first-person character voice of Brideshead Revisited. His descriptions were great, really bringing to life Boot’s shambolic journey to Ishamelia, and then the country itself (which seems to be hypothetically situated near Egypt and Sudan).Plus, the characters were all pretty well developed. I was partly gutted that we didn’t get to see more of John Boot and Mrs Stitch, merely because in a few pages Waugh had managed to make them sound fascinating. William made a sympathetic main character, whose innocence actually managed to work for him, as opposed to against in the end. Other colourful characters included Corker, a journalist for another paper with a habit of collecting curios; Erik Olafson, an eccentric Swede; Katchen, an almost-German beauty who provides a brief love interest for William and Theodore Boot, appearing to be another of Waugh’s rather ‘flamboyant’ characters.Scoop is a really fun novel, even if it does ridicule and raise questions about press integrity; Corker tells anecdotes of how previous reporters wrote about uprisings happening in towns where nothing of the sort was going on. It is, however, also a light critique of Marxism-the proposed revolution was to be Marxist supporting, and almost (a tiny bit) supportive of familial rule (a la the Royal family) with Ishamelia effectively being run by the Jacksons forever, quite happily and with no complaints from most of the populace.Politics aside however, Scoop is generally a good book, that deserves as much recognition as Brideshead Revisited. Perhaps now is the time for a television series?