2009: 44. Scoop

“While still a young man, John Courteney Boot had, as his publisher proclaimed, “achieved an assured and enviable position in contemporary letters.””

Scoop, Evelyn Waugh

Scoop is a deliciously entertaining satire on the news industry a la 1930’s England which still has plenty of bite today, and on top of that is sharp and funny and ridiculous enough to plaster over any holes that time might have pierced in the subject matter.  And that is a terrible sentence one I am embarrassed to say that Waugh would have skewered mercilessly.  The plot, for what its worth, is about Boots, who is mistakenly sent to Africa as a foreign correspondent for his paper (there was a mix up about names) and ends up with very little actual work becoming a world famous journalist.  What I liked about the novel is that it satirized the press pretty effectively, but managed (unlike, say A Handful of Dust) to leave its protagonist no worse for the wear at the end, so that it was cutting but not bleak.  My concern with this book is that I think there is some pretty appalling racism in the Africa sections.  And while I enjoyed the story and could overlook it, it strikes me that I can only ignore the racism and chalk it up to the times because I am white.  I am not sure to what extent Waugh is a big old racist and to what extent he is an iconoclast cutting everyone down (I’m sure his supporters would claim the latter), but it at least takes me out of what is a pretty fine story, and comes close to ruining the fun of it.  Which is a facile analysis, I guess.  An issue that bares closer thought than this blog is giving it, and I’ll have to think on that, too.

 

Date/Place Completed: April 2009; D.C.

Categories: Fiction, Modern Library Top 100, Book Resolutions, Commuting Book

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017