Oliver Burkeman's Year in Literature

I've never heard of Oliver Burkeman, but after reading his year-end book review for The Guardian, I'm stalking him on Google.

In our conflict-ravaged times, no such list could start with anything other than Bob Woodward's State of War of Denial of Plan of Attack, the third part of his insider analysis of how George Bush invaded Iraq. The first two books, based on weeks of one-to-one interviews with Bush and Donald Rumsfeld, exclusively revealed the inspired and decisive leadership of the president and his defence secretary. In a twist that can only be described as masterful, part three -- based on weeks of one-to-one interviews with Colin Powell -- exclusively reveals that they were actually rubbish.

Here's the lead of an article he wrote about the founder of Pzizz, an odd Web 2.0 company -- is that an oxymoron? -- that creates randomly generated naptime podcasts for adults:

For several weeks, I've been following instructions given to me by a nice man called Michael Breen. He has the calmest, most soothing voice I've ever heard. It's hard to imagine him getting anxious or edgy about anything; even if he found himself in an out-of-control jetliner hurtling towards the ground at 500mph, I don't think he'd panic. I think he'd turn to the passenger next to him and say, "Just relax every muscle in your body and let yourself drift, with comfort, into a state of complete ease."

There's a lot more stuff out there by Burkeman, mostly high-minded professional journalism that makes you a better person for having read it (or so I'm guessing), but his blog's a little thin.


I've long been an ardent admirer of Gore Vidal, so I laughed heartily when I read what Burkeman had to say in his piece at the Guardian about Vidal's "erudite monograph".

The terrible thing is that Mr.___and I sit around and drink wine and have "brilliant" conversations about things. It's the only way we know to relax.

Oliver cuts deep.

Until I read him, I never knew what a rich imagination Victoria Beckham has. I think she could teach Richard Dawkins a thing or two.

Fracking hilarious!

is that an oxymoron?

More like a tautology, perhaps? :-)

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