Author Topic: The ouvre of Ben Elton  (Read 1156 times)

BritishHobo

  • That is a really reductive impression
The ouvre of Ben Elton
« on: April 06, 2019, 07:48:20 PM »
I was delighted today to stumble across a brand new book by Ben Elton, which takes aim at this bloody ruddy PC gone mad offence culture! About time! Reading the blurb, it sounds literally identical to Dead Famous, only switching Big Brother for Twitter. A traditional police detective who doesn't understand the appalling younger generations has to investigate a murder spree based around [current popular fad]. Same with his Friends Reunited murder mystery. I read a little bit in WH Smiths and in only two pages there's a bit where the detective 'wants to say 'Duh!' like his neighbour's daughter always says'. Ha! Like the hip, yoot' Beattie Edmonson character in The Wright Way.

Anyway it got me thinking about Elton's pretty large body of work. Starting with Dead Famous when I was around 14, I went through a period of obsession with Elton's books. I'd not really moved from kid's/young adult books, so all the weird sex and endless political/social themes were confusing and fascinating to me. I think being younger, it was the murder mystery stuff that appealed, I loved that shit. Most if not all of the political commentary went over my head, and I often found myself bored reading ones that were fully focused on that, like his climate change novels or the drug one. Even to me they felt quite heavy-handed. I lost interest mid-way through Meltdown, the financial crisis one, which felt to my politically-ignorant self utterly tedious, just a load of people endlessly talking guff about the crash. Never read another after that, never re-read either. I still have some fondness for Dead Famous, and I'm wary of what I'll think. On the other hand, would I like some of the political ones more now I understand those topics marginally more? Or would I find them even worse?

Anyway, I was wondering if anyone here has read any of his books, and what people's thoughts are on his career as an author.

Phoenix Lazarus

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Re: The ouvre of Ben Elton
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2019, 08:26:03 PM »
Time and Time Again is great.  I tried to read his first one, Stark, but got put off by various stereotypes, plus Elton crowbarring bits of his stand-up routine into the story.

Re: The ouvre of Ben Elton
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2019, 04:57:35 AM »
The only bit I remember from Dead Famous is the bit where a terrible realisation is brought about by the molestation of a labia piercing.

Bennett Brauer

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Re: The ouvre of Ben Elton
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2019, 06:56:14 PM »
Pretty sure he's got a dyson.

Famous Mortimer

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Re: The ouvre of Ben Elton
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2019, 11:10:14 PM »
I read one with a General or some such bloke in it, and it was a pile of old wank. But I liked his first few novels, or at least early-twenties me did.

Re: The ouvre of Ben Elton
« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2019, 09:36:10 AM »
Even as a teenager I thought Popcorn, a novel inspired by the pearl-clutching hysteria around Natural Born Killers, was a load of tedious, on the nose shite. It even had the temerity to just lift entire scenes from the film in the guise of satire, Oliver Stone should've sued.

Chriddof

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Re: The ouvre of Ben Elton
« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2019, 11:29:55 PM »
I've never read any of his books because people keep saying how bad they are - but I did watch the now forgotten TV mini-series adaption of Stark, starring Elton himself. Dreadful bollocks, and it was the first thing of his I watched that disappointed me.

Catalogue Trousers

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Re: The ouvre of Ben Elton
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2019, 08:36:57 PM »
I remember quite enjoying, and being intensely annoyed by, Stark. Gridlock and This Other Eden are both okay if nothing special, and I've even got a kind word or three to say for Popcorn.

But everything else has been shit.

It's gone from his appalling Blackadder Goes Forth cash-ins like The First Casualty, to vapid dreck like Blast From The Past, to the left-wing Littlejohn crap of High Society and Blind Faith.

His books have deteriorated steadily into condescending, outdated, unfunny, unimportant crap.

In all fairness, so has Stephen Fry's fiction. But The Liar and The Hippopotamus are both genuinely good to great novels.

BritishHobo

  • That is a really reductive impression
Re: The ouvre of Ben Elton
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2019, 09:08:31 PM »
They really do have the jarring and hideous over-exaggeration of Littlejohn's writing, that's such a good comparison! I remember thinking Blind Faith was obnoxious with its stupid character names, people called things like Britney iPod or Stacey Burger King whatever the fuck. Identity Crisis has this in spades - the characters are so ridiculous it just constantly makes you aware that you're reading an over-written parody that's just directly copying things from real life and then giving them silly names.

I will credit it that it's pretty even-handed and there's some nuance in its understanding of the issues and the way they're exaggerated by a cynical media to manipulate people. But I'm not even halfway through and I really can't see what else it's got to give. It's basically already said everything it has to say.

Phoenix Lazarus

  • Why bother writing stuff below your avatar?
Re: The ouvre of Ben Elton
« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2019, 09:18:28 PM »
Even as a teenager I thought Popcorn, a novel inspired by the pearl-clutching hysteria around Natural Born Killers, was a load of tedious, on the nose shite. It even had the temerity to just lift entire scenes from the film in the guise of satire, Oliver Stone should've sued.

I believe Mary Whitehouse praised this, as satire against fictional violence.

Re: The ouvre of Ben Elton
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2019, 01:19:45 AM »
I get the impression that his audience is totally uncritical and he doesn't do self-criticism so he has never had to develop as a writer beyond where he was in 1990.

gilbertharding

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Re: The ouvre of Ben Elton
« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2019, 10:26:08 AM »
Pretty sure he's got a dyson.

I laughed.

gilbertharding

  • Not even the rudest man in the Beatles
Re: The ouvre of Ben Elton
« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2019, 10:27:41 AM »
I remember thinking Blind Faith was obnoxious with its stupid character names, people called things like Britney iPod or Stacey Burger King whatever the fuck. y.

*Martin Amis punches the wall*