Pad nauseam
4 April 2010
Categories upon categories
9 April 2010

1000 years of merde?


Today’s guest blogger, bestselling author Stephen Clarke, will be at the Library tomorrow at 19h30 to speak about his new book, 1000 Years of Annoying the French.

On Wednesday April 7, I will be at the American Library to talk about my new book, 1000 Years of Annoying the French. The event was originally planned for last autumn, but I had to present my grovelling apologies at the last minute because the publishers were finalizing the design of the book in London and actually wanted my opinion. As I said in my note of apology, this was an opportunity not to be missed, because I know writers who don’t see the cover of a book until it appears on Amazon, by which time it is too late to complain that a naked woman kissing a machine gun was not quite what they had in mind when they wrote their collection of love poems.

Now, though, the book is out, the rush is over and I will be able to sit back (I hope the American Library lets its authors sit down?) and explain why i wrote the book (apart, of course, from the fact that writing is my job and I enjoy it far more than I would, say, mining uranium), and tell a few of the juicier stories that I uncovered while doing my research into the 1000-year-long culture shock that is Franco-Anglo-Saxon relations.

One thing I must say in advance is that the book is not a millennium-long bout of French-bashing. After reading the chapter on Joan of Arc, for example, my (English) editor phoned me up saying “poor Joan, poor Joan.” She also called me (my editor, that is, not Joan) accusing me of quite liking Napoleon. Most of the French-bashing in the book was done long ago by people to whom I’m not even related (though my father did look at bit like Henry VIII).

True, I do try to debunk certain myths about French history, but then so would anyone who read, for example, the absurd theory that the Brits secretly buried Napoleon’s body under the nave of Westminster Abbey. I mean, would France bury an arch enemy in the Pantheon just to spite him? And I’m very sorry, but it was Docteur Guillotin himself who pointed out that he hadn’t invented a decapitiation machine, and he certainly didn’t want it to bear his name.

Anyway, there will be lots more of this kind of thing on April 7, when I will be talking about the book, reading an excerpt (if there’s time), answering questions and, I hope, signing a few books. See you there, 7.30pm. There will be refreshments, apparently, so if the worst comes to the worst you can just get drunk and fall asleep and you won’t have to listen to me at all.

–Stephen Clarke

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