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Book Review

Book Review: by Lang Reid

Don’t stop me now

Jeremy Clarkson has long been a favorite in both the written word through his Sunday Times columns and through his very popular TV series Top Gear. This new book Don’t stop me now (Penguin, ISBN 978-0-141-02611-4, 2007) comes after his very hilarious World according to Clarkson, volumes 1 and 2.
This book has very little to do with motor cars, though each chapter is ostensibly a review of a particular model. If you purchase this book hoping to learn something about motor cars, you will be disappointed. You will, however, learn something of Jeremy Clarkson. And his opinions, of which he is never short or obtuse.
Clarkson is a master of the art of metaphor, and as an example, describing the air-conditioner in a Peugeot he writes, “The Rolls-Royce system works with the power of 30 domestic refrigerators. Peugeot’s works with the power of an asthmatic in Bangladesh blowing at you through a straw.” But whilst these are very amusing in the context of the individual article, when you read the same one three or four times when the articles are published together, the amusement ceases. Metaphors, like jokes, do not bear repeating. Clarkson even writes, “Not being five, I find all books dull after I have read them once.”
I must also comment on the individual sections. The same format for each chapter - a seemingly unrelated introduction, mentioning another car other than the one supposedly the key player in the chapter, then a small section on what he liked, followed by what he didn’t, tends to reveal writing to a formula. A successful formula in a weekly column, but not so successful in book form.
However, ignoring the supposed motor car topic, you do get such wonderful sociological snippets as his dissertation on balding. “Baldness is bad enough when it appears from the front, but when it starts at the back, creating a big pink crater, it looks stupid. And what makes it worse is the mirror lies. It tells you that you still have a full rug. It tells you that all is well. Your hole is as invisible as the hole in the ozone layer, but you know it’s there all right, like a huge crop-circle, amusing people who sit behind you in cinemas.”
It is this deviation from the pure motoring theme that gives Clarkson his followers. You will not glean much motoring information from his weekly columns, or for that matter, from his Top Gear programs, but you will get much enjoyment from his description of life on this planet.
I enjoyed the book, provided that I took it in small lumps. You will also. At B. 495 on the Bookazine shelves, it is an inexpensive chuckle, but, for me, not as good as The World according to Clarkson.
Jeremy Clarkson is a superb writer with a pithy wit and an excellent command of hyperbole and metaphor. That is why you read/buy Jeremy Clarkson. However, he just has to make sure he can give his readers something different, and not rely on collecting previous work which is then collated between the Penguin covers.