The Digested Read of the Twentieth Century
John Crace, creator of the Guardian's Digested Read column, hilariously summarises the great – and not so great – classics of modern literature
John Crace's Digested Read column in the Guardian has rightly acquired a cult following. Each week fans avidly devour his latest razor-sharp literary assassination, while authors turn tremblingly to the appropriate page of the review section, fearful that it may be their turn to be mercilessly sent up.
Now he turns his critical eye on the classics of the last hundred years, offering bite-sized summaries of everything from Mrs Dalloway to Possession via Lolita and Midnight's Children. Those who have never quite got round to reading Ulysses will be delighted to find its essence distilled into a mere four paragraphs. Those who have never quite got on with Seven Pillars of Wisdom will be pleased to find it hilariously parodied in an easily swallowable 752 words. And those who find all such books intimidatingly highbrow will be relieved to find that they can also discover, between the covers of this book, John Crace's take on the likes of Jeffrey Archer, John Grisham and J.K. Rowling.
Witty, occasionally a bit cruel, this is essential reading both for those who love literature and those who can't see what all the fuss is about.
“A swift kick up the backside to some of modern literature's most iconic works. Accurate, merciless and very, very funny”
“I've read all these books at least twice - and now I've read John Crace's digested versions I wonder why I bothered”
“A genius and a madman. The meanest, funniest parodist alive”
“For the last 10 years [Crace's] 'Digested Reads' have been reason enough to buy the Guardian. Taking a well-known novel, he gives a brief distillation of the plot while capturing - often perfectly - the tone of its author. At the same time, he jabs a sharpened elbow into their pomposities and limitations”
“Beautifully observed and poisonously cruel ... laugh-out-loud funny”
“With witty, accurate impressions of writers' styles, this is the best way to appear incredibly well read without getting bogged down in hundreds of pages of James Joyce or Ernest Hemingway”
“A fun read ... Crace takes no prisoners as he chews up and spits out a century of literature. An amusing treat for the well-read and a fantastic cheat's guide for those who feel they probably should have read more”
“One hundred classics of modern literature are wickedly abridged by a smart satirist”