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Book Review: by Lang Reid
Don’t stop me now
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
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.
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