Lessons From The Land Of Pork Scratchings by Greg Gutfeld
|Lessons From The Land Of Pork Scratchings by Greg Gutfeld|
|Reviewer: Zoe Morris|
|Summary: Britain as seen through the eyes of a Bill Byson-esque writer, this is a monster collection of observations and insights into life in the UK today, from Irn-Bru to ASBOS.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: February 2009|
|Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd|
|External links: Author's website|
Greg Gutfeld came to England to take up a job as editor of a men's mag. Leaving New York as a stressed yet slim high-achiever, he soon settles into life in the UK and embraces a new world where the food is crap and the beer lukewarm, but where the people seem remarkably laid back and happy nonetheless. Two years later he leaves to return to his homeland, somewhat heavier and generally less fit than when he arrived, but with a newfound understanding of the secret of happiness, which weirdly has nothing to do with herpes (see chapter 66).
Two chapters into this book I was thinking of Bill Bryson and his various works. This book reads like a cross between Small Island and Notes from a Big Country as it contains the inane ramblings of the latter set in the country of the former. And, like both of those books, it's very easy to read and pretty funny.
This book has 95 chapters but fewer than 250 pages. You do the maths. We're talking short chapters - sometimes just half a page - but a lot of them. And, when the subject of a chapter is vomit, Pepperami or wasps, you don't really crave a longer chapter, so that's ok.
The author is a former editor of Maxim, a magazine I have been known to flick through on occasion when it's the only reading material on offer. As I remember, it's all beer and breasticles, which is not unlike this book. The writing style certainly mimics that of a bloke's mag, and the areas of British life he notes and dissects would certainly not be unappealing to your typical Maxim reader. That said, as a non-typical Maxim reader, I enjoyed it a lot too. I think it's one of those clever books that crosses the gender divide, appealing to both sexes equally, though perhaps to younger generations of each of these.
My favourite bits, as a Brit, were his observations of things we take for granted living here, and never really look at closely. When he does just that, however, you do start to notice a lot of the weird and wonderful things we just accept without question. The comparisons to America are also enlightening - I didn't know American men bathed less and showered more than British men, for example, or that due to the cost of hairdressers in the UK compared to that in the USA, British girls tend to have more uniform hair (attacked with GHDs until it straightens into submission) than their counterparts across the pond.
His "humour" might be offensive to some - for example, back in the USA the day of some attempted terrorist attacks in London, he wishes he was back here so he too could be sent home from work early and get a free afternoon in the pub - but for the most part he's pretty harmless, and the front cover warning that the pages "contain strong language" appeared to address an American audience because there's not much within it that I would consider any worse than the UK release of Four Weddings And a Funeral or Bridget Jones, both of which, incidentally, were edited for American audiences.
Thank you to the publishers for supplying this book. You can read an excerpt from it here at their website. The author also has a blog. Highly recommended reading, especially if you're the sort of person who likes to read a chapter before bed, and can make a book last a lifetime - there's no story as such here so if it takes you the two years it took to write it doesn't really matter.
Lessons From The Land Of Pork Scratchings by Greg Gutfeld is in the Top Ten Tube Reads.
Lessons From The Land Of Pork Scratchings by Greg Gutfeld is in the Top Ten Books For Your Father.
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