Yep, it’s that time of the week again. Herewith be the latest in an increasingly improbable line of Digested Reads, aka the Book du Jour in 300 words. This week: THE ELEPHANT TO HOLLYWOOD by Michael Caine. To wit:
“Moy nayme is Maurice Micklewhite. Not a lot of people know that.
“Whoops, no - let’s start again …
“Moy nayme is Moichal Cayne.
“Early years, blah-de-blah, ’umble beginnings, rhubarb, loverly jubbly.
“So - Zulu. ‘At one hundred yards! Volley fire, present! Aim! Fire!’ Loverly.
“That Johnny Foreigner doesn’t much loike cold steel up ’is jacksey, does he?
“Alfie, eh? The stories oi could tell … Oh, roight, that’s the whole point, innit?
“Birds, booze, birds … Nice blummin’ film it was, too.
“Wot’s that? The Italian Job? ‘’Ang abaht, boys - oi’ve got an idear.’ Think Lawrence Olivier could’ve delivered a line loike that? Fat flummin’ chance.
“So where wuz we? Roight, yeah - Get Carter. ‘Yer a big man but yer in bad shape. Wiv me it’s a full-time job. Now be’ave.’ Think Shakespeare could’ve written lines like that? Be’ave.
“The Man Who Would Be King, eh? That Connery, he’s a caution. The stories I could tell … Scottish, though. Can’t be ’elped. Least said, soonest mended, as my dear old sainted mother used to say.
“The Eagle has Landed. Me, play a Kraut? Yer ’avin’ a larf, aintcha?
“Yeah, so, ’Ollywood. Fame, fortune, blah, rhubarb, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. That Steve Martin, eh? ’Ad us in stitches, he ’ad. He was funny then, mind.
“Did I mention the Oscars? Both of ’em? Think Olivier’d win two -- Oh, roight.
“Okay, so that’s all the stuff we covered in the first autobiography. Now for the new gear …
“Roight, so ’ere’s a few of me favourite recipes. Food, eh? Loverly jubberly.
“And ’ere’s just a few of me favourite films. Films, eh? Loverly.
“Batman, yeah. ‘Some men just want to watch the world burn, sir.’ Connery, mainly. Scots git.
“Wot’s that? Inception? Nah, mate, not a bleedin’ clue.
The Digested Read, in one line: “’Ang abaht boys, I’ve got the same blummin’ idear as last time!”
This article was first published in the Evening Herald.
“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.