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Monday, 3 June 2019

Review - Keith Waterhouse: Mondays, Thursdays

Keith Waterhouse: Mondays, Thursdays
Keith Waterhouse
Mondays, Thursdays. (2*)

I didn’t like this. I got it on the back of the thoroughly enjoyable Billy Liar (see review) because Waterhouse fans say it is just as good, but gave up dissatisfied about three-quarters of the way through.

Mondays, Thursdays is a collection of over a hundred of Keith Waterhouse’s Daily Mirror columns from the first half of the nineteen-seventies. In length they range from half to two book pages and could easily today be imagined as a blog. He writes about the same kinds of nostalgia as me, such as toys, cigarette cards and being converted to natural gas. Much of it remembers his Yorkshire childhood. The pieces are full of the wit and inventiveness you would expect from someone once described as one of Britain’s funniest writers. And yet, I didn’t like it.

Perhaps the problem is in the style: too chatty, too light-hearted, too much about the author with too many ‘I’s on the page. There is a sense of always looking for the humour rather than genuinely caring about the topics he writes about. He didn’t make me care about them either.

There are exceptions. A wonderful piece tells of the author’s ninety-five year-old granddad who lived alone in a remote village and liked to send and receive letters even though he could neither read nor write. In order to keep in touch, Waterhouse’s mother posted him an envelope every Monday containing nothing but another stamped-addressed envelope for a reply. Grandad always opened it immediately and popped the empty reply straight back in the letter box, usually to arrive on Wednesday. They then knew he was safe and well. One week there was no reply. Waterhouse’s mother caught the bus to where he’d lived, and buried him.

As an unfinished book it should get only one star, but the odd pearl raises it to 2.

Key to star ratings: 5* would read over and over again, 4* enjoyed it a lot and would recommend, 3* enjoyable/interesting, 2* didn't enjoy, 1* gave up.  

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2 comments:

  1. I remember Keith Waterhouse's column; I used to read it sometimes. I recall it being witty and original but also at times oddly conventional

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    Replies
    1. I so much looked forward to reading it but was disappointed. It could be that it hasn't aged well.

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