Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Top ten satires

Poet/playwright/novelist Adam Thorpe selected a top ten list of satires for the Guardian.

He introduced his selections thus:
"I live in France, and as I write this, the newly-elected president, having declared himself committed to uniting the French and caring for the poor, is sailing on a huge luxury yacht around Malta. Is he satirising himself? One wonders. Sarkozy once declared that, to "paralyse" his enemies, he likes to use their own phrases. In our postmodern age, even satire can be anticipated and enrolled in the cause of power. George W Bush is his own satire: we need add nothing. Remember that time he couldn't find the stage exit after a lecture? And what modern Swift could ever have invented the moment he received the news that America was under attack, clutching The Pet Goat in front of the class, and then reading it out with the kids?

"Satirists have it hard, these days. They can barely match the truth. And shallow satire is no good at all; it is merely cynical, as husked of all value as the average TV chat show and its meaningless laughter. Good, deep satire has both rage and compassion behind it - along with the hope of something better."
One title from Thorpe's list:
Joseph Conrad: The Secret Agent

This damp, dark thriller dances about on satirical feet, from its opening paragraph to the very last, where it suddenly plunges like Chernobyl's core to our own apocalyptic times, seamed with petit-bourgeois envy and crazed fundamentalist dreams. Whether attacking the former or the latter, Conrad never lets go of his grim, twitchy smile.
Read about the only title on Thorpe's list written by a woman.

--Marshal Zeringue