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Submit Response is a weblog by Jack Mottram, a journalist who lives in Glasgow, Scotland. There are 1308 posts in the archives. You can subscribe to a feed. This post was made on and belongs in the books category. The previous post was , and the next post is .


Philip ‘Tracey Emin Hates Me’ Hensher had a nice piece in the Independent the other day, on the appeal of a good index.

It’s mostly a list of examples of index wit. Here’s the entry for God in the index to Francis Wheen’s excellent How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered The World:

…accepted by Newton; angered by feminists and gays; appoints American coal-owners; approves of laissez-faire economics; arrives in America; asked by Khomeini to cut off foreigners’ hands; believed to have created humans 10,000 years ago; could have made intelligent sponges; doesn’t foresee Princess Diana’s death; helps vacuum-cleaner saleswoman; interested in diets; offers investment advice; praised by Enron chairman; produces first self-help manual.

Sadly, Hensher confirms that the following entry in the index of a Catholic encyclopaedia is apocryphal:

Woman: see Sin

As is usually the case with this sort of pseudo-intellectual broadsheet fluff, the author is writing thinly-veiled advertorial, shilling his new novel, The Fit. For once, I’m glad of the heads up: Hensher has his protaganist dream of compiling an Index To The History of The World, one ‘so beautiful and complete that there would be no reason whatever to write the book itself.’ Not knowing Hensher’s past novels, I haven’t a clue whether this will make for sub-Borgesian pap or the sort of wilfully arcane intertextual mucking about that makes me weak at the knees (arguably the same thing) but I can’t wait for it to hit the shelves so I can find out.

Posted at 3pm on 08/07/04 by Jack Mottram to the books category.
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  1. Maybe this review might make you reconsider that last line … Obviously I’ve not read the book, but it sounds hideous.

    Posted by Leon McDermott at 3pm on 09.07.04

  2. Yowsers - that’s nice calm considered hatchet job of a review.

    I find Andrew Crumey to be either spot on or way off, so I’ll reserve judgement, but it does sound like I was on the nose with sub-Borgesian pap, and from the stuff he pulls out, Crumey’s guess that it’s juvenalia pulled out of a drawer and dusted off sounds fairly likely.

    How great is the Scotsman’s implementation of RSS? The Javascript wizard for easy syndicating is a nice touch - can’t be arsed testing it, but by the looks of things it spits good clean (X)HTML with all styling handled by CSS.

    Posted by Jack at 6pm on 09.07.04

  3. Crossing over with the previous post about JG Ballard; he wrote an amazing short story called ‘The Index’ which takes the form of the index for a biography, the book having been supposedly destroyed. From just this alphabetical listing the reader builds up an outline of the man’s life story.

    Posted by tomp at 10am on 13.07.04

  4. Thanks for the tip Tomp - I’ll have to have a look for that.

    Posted by Jack at 11am on 13.07.04

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