From John Freeman:
Several years ago, I had an editor at a newspaper who liked to go over copy by the phone. His edits could be brutal, but he always circled around with a palliative comment to remind me it was all in service of a bigger need. “Remember, John,” he would say, “this is for the guy out in the suburbs eating his corn flakes. He has about five minutes before it’s outside for some Sunday yard work. So you want to tell him something important.”
From Anthony Burgess’s You’ve Had Your Time:
John Coleman in the Spectator said: ‘Not the best of Burgess’s books. Mr. Burgess might curb his inventiveness: he’d be a first-rate comic novelist if the camouflage of another little joke were down and he looked his subject squarely in the face.’ R.G.G. Price in Punch wrote: ‘I do not quite understand why everybody refers to Mr. Burgess as a funny man. He is as accurate and depressing as Gissing, though I agree that he is a Gissing with a sense of fun and an eye for any comedy to be found in his ruined world.’ Do reviewers ever consider that novelists are desperate for help, that they are anxious to be told where they go wrong and what they can do to put things right, and that, before they achieve the dignity of solus reviews and academic dissertations, they have to rely on these lordly summations in the weekly press?