Thursday, September 08, 2005

Portrait of the Week

That's the title of the news summary in the front of each week's Spectator; a whole week's news summarized in half a page. It's wonderfully brief and occasionally mystifying if you aren't reading the English dailies. Politicians and celebrities of all flavours can be eviscerated in less than a sentence. I remember one Clinton-era report only one, short sentence in length which began "Someone called Dee Dee Myers announced that. . . ." Ouch.

This week's contains the following: "Mrs Victoria Beckham said that, contrary to previous reports, she had read a book, indeed several, although not all the way through." That one was under the "mystifying" rubric, at least for me. Just a random celebrity whacking? Probably not; there is usually a story behind that sort of thing. Another of the many things that are just interesting enough to ponder for a millisecond but not interesting enought to bestir oneself to find out. And then I found this as the lead paragraph in a review in the back of the book:

"There is now an established tradition of busy stars not reading the books to which they put their names. It stretches from Hedy Lamarr, who 40 years ago sued the ghost-writers of "Ecstasy and Me" for misrepresentation some while after publication, to Victoria Beckham who claims never to have read a book, not even her autobiography. According to the distinguished film historian, David Thompson, who licked Fan-Tan into shape for publication, it seems likely that the dyslexic [Marlon] Brando belonged to this elite company and never read this posthumously published novel."

So there you have it: it was a claim she herself made after all. Sort of makes all that time you wasted in websurfing today worth while doesn't it. (Fair warning: I told you years ago that this is only "The Inn at the End of the World" because the far more descriptive "Summa Minutiæ" was already taken.)