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Tuesday 4 September 2007

Charlie Brooker's Screen Burn

I can't remember when I last walked into a bookshop and paid full price for a book. Well, I can, because it was this afternoon. Before that, I mean.

This afternoon I was in London with a train journey ahead of me and nothing to read on it. The Tube strike was in full swing, and as I walked from Wardour Street toward Euston I had time for a quick mooch around Foyles' (I'd been recording a DVD commentary for an old Doctor Who, about which I'll probably say more at some other time).

There it was, a collection of Charlie Brooker's TV columns from The Guardian. For once I didn't do my usual trick of giving it the once-over and then running home to order it from Amazon with a few quid off, but slapped down the Mastercard right there and then.

It brightened the journey back no end, although I did check the index first for any mention of shows I'd been involved in. Just to see if there were any bits I'd need to skip. For a thin-skinned soul like me, it's always more entertaining to see others getting the roasting.

I'd spotted Brooker at this year's BBC Vision Talent bash (don't ask me what it was; a vast sweaty unlit hellhole crammed with thousands of bodies, is all I remember. It took place in some venue near the British Museum and the drinks were free. It was BBC-hosted and was like Piers Plowman's "Field Full of Media Folke").

I was tempted to collar him just to say thanks for a line in a recent column. Writing about Fearne Cotton and an interview she'd given to GQ magazine, he reckoned that mention of Ms Cotton's depilatory practices would have set the GQ readership "wanking like an angry orchestra."

But I didn't.

I did, however, buy his book. Which I suppose is a more concrete form of appreciation.


Good Dog said...

Apart from his writing, the other great thing about Brooker is he's a great fan of The Wire.

Another great book is Interference: Tapehead versus Television by Jim Shelley, collecting articles he wrote in The Guide before Brooker took over.

Stephen Gallagher said...

What gets me is, nine quid for a paperback???

How did we ever let that happen?

In my heart the right price for a paperback is forever three and six. Or five shillings if it's THE SECOND HAMMER HORROR FILM OMNIBUS.

Good Dog said...

I was digging through a box of books early on the weekend and found a couple of novels that had cost the grand sum of 45p.

But nine quid for a paperback. You could get the new Harry Potter for that!

Stephen Gallagher said...

It gets worse. I just opened up an Amazon delivery that includes Mike Figgis' DIGITAL FILM-MAKING. £8.99 cover price on a slender pocket-sized pamphlet of 155 pages! I'd estimate there's about 35,000 words there. At the price I was expecting some kind of trade paperback along the lines of John Boorman's MONEY INTO LIGHT or Nestor Almendros' A MAN WITH A CAMERA, both also Faber. Or even better, Lenny Lipton's INDEPENDENT FILMMAKING, which was my Bible when I was in my '20s.

No disrespect to the content, which I haven't looked at yet.

Good Dog said...

I saw the Figgis book last week on the shelf of a bookstore and wondered if it had been shrunk in the wash.

Then again, he did invent the fig rig - http://services.manfrotto.com/figrig/ - which is a genius device and really nice and easy to use.

I just checked my shelves again and found Steven Bach's Final Cut about the making of Heaven's Gate with a cover price of £4.95. That came out around the same time as Boorman's book, I guess.

Actually, I should point out that you're talking to someone with one bookcase dedicated to first-editions and limited edition Harlan Ellison books. The price I've paid for some, both here and in LA, is absolutely obscene.

John Soanes said...

I doff my cap to you, GD. Ellison is (and I doubt I'm the first to say this) very probably the greatest writer, with the most awards and accolades, who most people have never heard of.

AFGreenwood said...

I first came across Charlie Brooker on the "TV Go home" spoof Radio Times pages, which used to make me metaphorically wet myself laughing, although at the time I had never heard of CB and technically still do not really know who he is (although I saw the C4 Nathan Barley show). I think my sister pointed them out to me as at the time she worked for the BBC or Film 4 (depending upon the date).
Anyway, I am not sure if these comments are about Charlie Brooker or the expense of paperbacks, but if it is the latter then I get most of my books used from Amazon for one penny (plus £2.75) postage or three for two at Waterstones (which is better than buy one get one half price at WHS - do the maths).
This rule clearly goes out of he window with Steve's books which are all blooming well £30 or more these days, so to be honest I can't see why he mpans at £9 for a papperbok

AFGreenwood said...

clearly I meant "moans" not "mpans".
Also what is this about Harlan Ellison - has no one read all Christoper Priest's comments and books about Dangerous Visions 3.
This would be irrelevant I supposed if I had a great reverence for him, but when i look at my shelves I can see only three papperboks, none of which I can remember, whereas I can spot every Clifford D Simak story published in the UK.
I may have gone completely off-topic here, but that's life after a bottle of fizzy wine

AFGreenwood said...

the £30 comment sounds very bitter, especially considering the number of beers Steve seems to buy me. I will happily correct it to $30 (or less) and point out that I wouldn't buy them if I didn't want them and think they were pretty darn fine.
Is there a spell checker in this fool system?

Stephen Gallagher said...

If there's a spell chucker, I haven't located it yet.

I have to hold my hands up over the cost of my last two or three hardcovers, which were signed indie limited editions from PS Publishing and Subterranean Press - the search for an outlet for more market-friendly editions continues but when it comes down to it, you play with the kids who want to play with you. An eccentric wordcount limited the options of The Painted Bride and the short story collection was a response to Pete Crowther's initiative, and those are the kind of books he does. The Spirit Box should have gone wider, but the timing of its multiple submission couldn't have been worse. Someday I'll tell the story, if I can avoid it looking like self-absorbed whining about 9/11. I've seen that event co-opted for excuses far too often.

But hey. Eleven quid for The Kingdom of Bones in a damned handsome hardcover. That's half a pint at Berkshire pub prices.

AFGreenwood said...

Did i see you recommend getting Kingdom of bones from Amazon.com as the US Dollar is so weak at the moment? it is certainly looking like the best place to get the new Springsteen Album ($9.99).
I can hardly complain about the short story compilation as I believe that I nagged you for one for twenty years!
It occurs to me that blogging comments in public to someone who I can just email or phone up is a bit odd, but we are supposed to be using "Web 2.0"tm as the new thing (even though it isn't). I noticed the other day that FaceBook is opening itself up to internet search engines so anything on there (home address, birthday, naughty photos) will become public domain unless you rush in as slap a private flag on your account.

Stephen Gallagher said...

"Did i see you recommend getting Kingdom of bones from Amazon.com as the US Dollar is so weak at the moment?"

Simplest way here is to order it from our own Amazon.UK. The price seesaws up and down a bit from day to day with variations in the exchange rate, but it qualifies for free shipping.

Stephen Gallagher said...

Hmm. Blogger seems to be replacing my HTML as it publishes.

So just go to: