Another book I read this month is Briefs Encountered by Julian Clary, also from Amazon’s Vine programme. Yes he is as camp as the Millets website but he writes very readable book. I thought that Devil in Disguise was good, but this is even better. Let’s hope he continues dipping his pen into the inkwell for a long time to come. Here is what I wrote about it:
It is quite tempting to be dismissive of celebrity authors, especially comedians, as if they are not ‘proper’ writers. Maybe there are some who get poor books published purely on the strength of their name, with the story suffering at the expense of jokes, but that doesn’t mean they are all bad – Eric Morecambe wrote a decent short novel, Ben Elton has had considerable success, and there is no reason why Julian Clary can’t find a niche for himself.
I have read and enjoyed an earlier Clary book so I was expecting to like this and wasn’t disappointed. While Clary is sticking very much to situations that are familiar to him (gay showbiz culture) there is nothing wrong with writing about what you know, and it does expand into elements of ghost story and thriller. All the time it is, or course, extremely arch.
You just know Clary had fun writing this, especially with introducing himself as an unsympathetic character. I loved the throwaway line where somebody puts him down by suggesting he was busy rehearsing for panto in Crawley – he was actually in panto here in Crawley recently.
The book follows two stories and jumps between them. One is the story of Noel Coward in his country house, the other is the story of an actor who enjoyed some success playing Noel Coward who buys Coward’s old house from Julian Clary. Both stories are well told and the suspense is kept up by jumping to the other story at the merest hint of a cliffhanger.
Along the way there are some turns which are darker than the breezy cover would lead to to expect and it is probably that mixture of the predictable and unpredicable that made the book so much of a pleasure. Mr Clary has made a decent fist of writing and I look forward to the next one.