Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Stuffed boned duck

I've been doing this for a while, now. Recipe Rifle's first birthday came and went in October without me even really noticing. I'm not especially sentimental about things like that. Although I realise I'm going to have to be a bit sentimental about the child's first birthday or people will just be, like, so judgmental.

Anyway, quite a lot of people have started saying to me "are you going to turn it into a book..?" or, if they're feeling mean "I suppose you'll be wanting to turn it into a book."

And the idea that all you need to do to get a book deal is write a fucking blog really really makes me laugh. Bitterly. "Ha!" I say. "Ha ha haaaaaaaarghhhhhghgh."

I have in fact written a book and it's great and I love it. In fact, it's the best thing I've ever written or probably will ever write. It's perfect. It's as good as Edmund: A Butler's Tale, with fewer sizzling gypsies. But no agent or publisher will touch it.

Why? Because it's a short comic homage to Kingley Amis's Lucky Jim. And the publishing world is like "What the fucking fuck do you want us to do with that? Is it a misery memoir? No. Is it about a dead toddler? No. Are you Michael fucking Macintyre? NO! Get out of my office, kid."
That's how they talk in publishing, seriously.

Except for a nice man, whose name I can't remember, who works at my husband's publisher. He asked me if I was writing a book and when I told him what it was, this short comic homage to Lucky Jim, set in a school, he made a face like a surgeon looking at a really nasty X-Ray. Then, with the bedside manner of a private doctor telling someone they're going to die, and quite soon, he explained very nicely why it was never going to get published. But I knew that already.

Occasionally a sympathetic friend who also has literary pretensions will demand to read this magnificent octopus. And I always refuse. And they say "Why?"

And I say "Because my book is like Centrepoint?"
And they say "Centrepoint the office block in Tottenham Court Road?"
And I say "Yes."
And they say "?"

And I say "Well, you're probably too young to remember all this, but after Centrepoint was built in 1966 by the property tycoon Harry Hyams, it was left empty for years. No-one could understand why. There was all this excellent office space just empty. What was Hyams thinking? Well, what he was thinking was that Centrepoint was more valuable to him empty than it was rented out - because the money he could levy against the potential rental income of the office space was more useful to him than the income itself.

"In the same way, sort of, if no-one ever reads my book, it can remain potentially the best short comic homage to Lucky Jim, set in a school, ever written. But once a lot of people read it, they'll start having all sorts of opinions about it and say it doesn't live up to the hype and stuff like that. So it's more valuable to me un-read than read."

People usually make their excuses and leave at this point.

But I tell you who did get a book deal out of writing a blog: Julie Powell of Julie & Julia fame. And I was reminded of how irritating she is while watching the eponymous film the other evening. The fuss she makes about boning a duck. Honestly. The scene when she says to her husband "Can you even conceive of boning a duck?" while waggling her fingers infuriates me. Illiterate French pot-bashers can do it, for fuck's sake. Stop whining.

So I thought I'd make that ludicrous and revolting-sounding stuffed boned duck in pastry thing just because that scene pissed me off so much. And just because I want to prove that however hard it might sound, boning a duck is so much easier than getting a book deal.

But I haven't done it yet because I need to pop out for all the ingredients. So bear with me.


  1. Hee hee. Your blog is so entertaining, even when you're not cooking.

  2. You are wise.

    Blogs and books are different media. A brilliant blog may never work as a book, but it doesn't devalue it. I do not believe that a brilliant book, or even a mediocre book, could ever work as a blog.

    Also, I work for a literary agency, and please may I ask everyone to stop writing books. Or at least to stop writing rubbish books. And sending hugely over-confident covering letters about how you're "ready" to be published now. Or phoning every single day because we haven't yet read your story about a woman and her children surviving domestic abuse, told through the eyes of a disabled wild rabbit called Fluffy (yes, really).

    But I don't think this applies to your book. Unless it is a disabled rabbit called Fluffy telling the short comic homage to Lucky Jim.

  3. Aargh, the suspense!

  4. Have just stumbled across your blog...made my day. I am bored out of my brains at work, so drooling over food pics is getting me through the next hour before i race over to Tesco for a sweaty sandwich. Can see the local country park from office window, there are a few Canada Geese and Mallards bobbing about on the water, do you want me to bag you one for your duck bashing recipe?

  5. That scene really annoyed me too. Actually, Julie Powell's writing really annoys me, as did all the scenes in the film with 'Julie' in them. Somebody should edit the film so it's only the Julia Child bits. I hope you make this, that it is easy to make, and that it is a delicious triumph.

  6. At the end of this post I broke into a big grin! I'm in a pretty vile mood today as well, just shouted down the phone at my mother and I'm not quite sure why... but the bit at the end of this post where you say you don't have the ingredients made me crack a huge smile. Thanks!

  7. I read the Julie and Julia book. Didn't think much of it.

    So annoying that she decided to do this huge project, then did a half-arsed job of it. If she wasn't going to follow it to the letter, why even bother...?

    Bloody, bloody, bloody...

  8. oh... I loved Julie and Julia... it inspired me to start blogging... then i wrote a book, which got published and its soon to be made into a film... and then i woke up... i've boned a spare rib... does that help?