This, for some obscure reason beyond one’s not inconsiderable intellect, is one of Mummy’s all-time favourites. She starts reading it on the first of December each year, carefully husbanding it so that she reads the last few pages on Christmas Eve – inevitably drunk and crying snottily. I have been a party to this inexplicable ritual for most of my life, and, until I reached adulthood, Mumsie was in the habit of sitting on the side of my bed and reading this to me in instalments. In retrospect, this may perhaps have coloured my perception of Mr Dickens’ slight little thing. However, we shall persevere – because discipline is good for the soul.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
A Christmas classic.
Let us examine why.
In one’s estimation , his book taps into all the overused and overexposed ideas of Christmas sensibility. A major character called Scrooge. A major character notable for his meanness and lack of empathy…. Tell me how that is not jumping on the bandwagon of that name denoting meanness and lack of empathy. Yuletide ghosts. The deserving poor. A crippled child that is so sickeningly cute one almost wishes it would meet with an accident. The lack of originality in this thing almost beggars belief. And the story. The story is the apotheosis of predictability, it is the absolute nemesis of creative thought. Does it not glorify the mundane and deify that which is unbeautiful? Is it not the histoire of a plain old man with little to recommend him beyond his wealth? And by the end of this horrible little book is he not giving his wealth away? One. Does. Not. Comprehend.
An unpleasant old man meets some ghosts and becomes somewhat less unpleasant as a consequence. A story peopled with every overused Christmas stereotype the author could find.
Not for one of one’s exquisite sensibilities. However one must acknowledge its appeal to the undereducated, the maudlinly sentimental, the intoxicated, and those with an oleaginous attachment to an unrealistic ideal of Christmas.
No stars for originality. No stars for narrative arc. No stars for one’s own literary tastes. However one must award this author many shiny bright celestial beings for his ability to grasp the populace by its collective scrotum and insert his scribbling into the conscious of a whole nation. One must bow one’s head in the face of such financial acumen.
Read it and weep tears of frustration.
You can find more of IVy's profound advice in How To Start Writing A Book, the worst ever 'how to write' book. Read IVy's advice with editorial comments on each blog piece by his mother, Jacintha. All courtesy of E.M. Swift-Hook and Jane Jago.