The Book of My Enemy Has Been Remaindered
The book of my enemy has been remainderedAnd I am pleased.In vast quantities it has been remaindered.Like a van-load of counterfeit that has been seizedAnd sits in piles in a police warehouse,My enemy's much-praised effort sits in pilesIn the kind of bookshop where remaindering occurs.Great, square stacks of rejected books and, between them, aislesOne passes down reflecting on life's vanities.Pausing to remember all those thoughtful reviewsLavished to no avail upon one's enemy's book -For behold, here is that bookAmong these ranks and banks of duds,These ponderous and seemingly irreducible cairnsOf complete stiffs.The book of my enemy has been remainderedAnd I rejoice.It has gone with bowed head like a defeated legionBeneath the yoke.What avail him now his awards and prizes,The praise expended upon his meticulous technique,His individual new voice?Knocked into the middle of next weekHis brainchild now consorts with the bad buys,The sinkers, the clinkers, dogs and dregs,The Edsels of the world of moveable type,The bummers that no amount of hype could shiftThe unbudgeable turkeys.Yes, his slime volume with its understated wrapperBathes in the glare of the brightly jacketed Hitler's War Machine,His unmistakably individual new voiceShares the same scrapyard with a forlorn skyscraperOf The Kung-Fu Cookbook,His honesty, proclaimed by himself and believed in by others,His renowned abhorrences of all posturing and pretence,Is there with Pertwee's Promenades and Pierrots -One Hundred Years of Seaside Entertainment,And (oh, this above all) his sensibility,His sensibility and its hair-like filaments,His delicate, quavering sensibility is now as oneWith Barbara Windsor's Book of Boobs,A volume graced by the descriptive rubric"My boobs will give everyone hours of fun."Soon now a book of mine could be remaindered also,Though not to the monumental extentIn which the chastisement of remaindering has been meted outTo the book of my enemy.Since in the case of my own book it will be dueTo a miscalculated print run, a marketing error -Nothing to do with merit.But just supposing that such an event should holdSome slight element of sadness, it will be offsetBy the memory of this sweet moment.Chill the champagne and polish the crystal goblets!The book of my enemy has been remainderedAnd I am glad.
Clive James (1939-2019) was born in Australia, but lived most of his adult life in England. He was a cultural phenomenon: television, non-fiction books, poetry.
The Other Reader promoted this poem for a while, but I resisted, though I also quite like it. But it is a lot of typing. But tonight, not feeling very imaginative, but willing to type, was its time...
On my way to the grocery store earlier, I passed the 'kind of bookshop where remaindering occurs' (BMV, for you locals) and could have stopped in to take a picture of 'great, square stacks of rejected books', (The Kung-Fu Cookbook, indeed) but didn't.
It's long, but it's so great! I needed a laugh today, so thanks for posting this very humorous poem. :DReplyDelete
It wanted to spam your comment, but I wouldn't let it! (Never know why it does that...)Delete