Dishonesty is the Second-Best Policy: And Other Rules to Live By by David Mitchell: Book Review

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We’ve gone from UKIP surge to Brexit shambles, from horsemeat in lasagne to Donald Trump in the White House, from Woolworths going under to all the other shops going under. It’s probably socially irresponsible even to attempt to cheer up.

But if you’re determined to give it a go, you might enjoy this eclectic collection (or eclection) of David Mitchell’s attempts to make light of all that darkness. Scampi, politics, the Olympics, terrorism, exercise, rude street names, inheritance tax, salad cream, proportional representation and farts are all touched upon by Mitchell’s unremitting laser of chit-chat, as he negotiates a path between the commercialisation of Christmas and the true spirit of Halloween. Read this book and slightly change your life! -Goodreads

My Review

My Rating: 4.5

In the review section for this book on Goodreads, I saw that a few people put the book down after reading the introduction. I can sort of see why. It wasn’t the happy, comical interpretation of modern society that many of us would be expecting from David Mitchell. The tone of the introduction does not fit well with the rest of the book. This is, of course, because the book is a collection of Mitchell’s columns from The Guardian, not a traditional work of creative nonfiction. This is not a criticism of the book – only an observation.

I really enjoyed reading this book. The topics covered varied from pampered celebrities and politicians to the everyday hilarity of funny street names and farts. It is good, once in a while, to step back from thinking seriously and just have a laugh.

Not that Mitchell’s sharp wit makes light of the more serious topics. Behind the clever wordplay and piss-taking there is a genuine exploration of what is going on. It’s a bit like watching Mock the Week, where the panelists “mock” what has been in the news that week but there is a sharp edge to their criticisms.

This was a great book, and half-way through, I bought his first book, “Thinking about it only makes it worse,” because it’s always fun to laugh at history (as that book is filled with columns over the five(ish) years before 2015.

Don’t take the book too seriously, but it will still make you think.

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