The surest way to make a monkey of a man

I just finished Musings of a Monkey, by Steven Baxter. It’s partly a compilation of his blogposts (from Enemies of Reason and other sources), partly a handful of extended essays on the state of journalism and the ramifications of the recent phone hacking scandal.

For a reasonably serious book about culture and news reportage, this was an enjoyable, easy, fast read that I would recommend to anyone (and indeed I am doing: to you.) That’s not just because I had read one or two of the excellent articles before, but also because Baxter’s writing style is lucid and determinedly unhurried; more haste (in writing), less speed (in reading). He scrupulously picks away at facts and opinions, and in a number of pieces on depression treats his own mental and emotional states with the same forensic, tweezered care.

Now that I’ve finished reading the monkey’s musings, it sits on the same shelf as Steinberg’s Five Hundred Years of Printing and Hoggart’s The Uses of Literacy. So far, neither show signs of shunning their new neighbour, which means that if you want to read it then you’ll have to just buy your own copy. Go on, then. Steven needs the money.

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