Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

There Is Life after Politics - Just Write a Bad Novel

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

There Is Life after Politics - Just Write a Bad Novel

Article excerpt

Byline: SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE

AS A Downing Street spin doctor, Alastair Campbell was renowned for telling tall stories and stretching credulity to the limit. Now he has transferred his skills to writing fiction and the result is his debut novel, All in the Mind, the story of a psychiatrist who desperately needs psychiatric help himself.

If there is any justice in the world then Campbell's book would win a literary prize the Literary Review Bad Sex prize, that is. Clunky sex scene is piled on clunky sex scene, two-dimensional body upon two-dimensional body, and his observations border on the banal.

Ernest Hemingway observed it is much easier to write about what you know than what you don't know.

Campbell has clearly taken this lesson to heart. He started out on his career as a soft porn merchant writing colourful prose for Forum magazine, under the pseudonym Riviera Gigolo. His powers of description, such as they are, have not really developed in 30 years.

There's a priceless scene where our hero loses his virginity "on an oddly shaped park bench with intricate metalwork at either end". It's a curious detail and any writer worth his salt would have arrested our attention (and prolonged the anticipation) by giving us the texture, the smell and the colour of the bench.

But Campbell doesn't linger: he is too eager to get down to the business of copulation. …

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