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Brideshead Abbreviated: The Digested Read of the Twentieth Century

3.33  ·  Rating details ·  80 ratings  ·  14 reviews
John Crace turns his critical eye on the classics of the last century, offering bite–sized pastiches of everything from Mrs Dalloway to Trainspotting via Lolita and The Great Gatsby. Those who have never quite got around to reading A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man will be delighted to find its essence distilled into a handful of paragraphs. Those who have never real ...more
Hardcover, 356 pages
Published October 1st 2010 by Random House UK (first published September 3rd 2010)
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Nguyen Santiago
Jan 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
When they are good, they are very good indeed.

God of Small Things - "May in Ayemenem is a hot brooding month, where the days are long and humid, crows gorge on bright mangoes and too many overwrought descriptive passages pile up in a car-crash of a creative writing tutorial."

Midnight's Children - "I fear I may be lapsing in to repetition, yet what is life save a series of repetitions, and what is a Salman Rushdie book save a few good pages, overwritten and overwritten with the verbosity of an o
...more
Gavin
Jul 15, 2018 rated it liked it
A tasting platter of C20th literature (one book synopsised per year of the century), as well as very successful pastiche, as well as highbrow larfs, and also, occasionally, a tiny philosophical critique of revered writers. It is of course easy to make anything ridiculous if you compress it enough, but Crace is not cheap about it. He reserves most of his scorn for the obscene sensationalists (Ballard, Burroughs, Joyce, Kundera). Here is the main joke Crace makes in at least half of all of them, f ...more
Francesca Pashby
Dec 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
I only read the parodies of the books I’d read ... but I thought those were spot on. Very funny and clever.
Alison
Jul 14, 2015 added it
well I didn't like, or hadn' t read quite a lot of the 100 books-10 per decade, of the 20th century he paraphrases/parodies/abbreviates-and, to be frank, don't want to read them either. the ones I knew something about are wittily written about, although always with the same tone of superiority-about plot, motivation, or lack of it, character, writing style etc. it did become rather tiresome.
do like the way he gets to the essence of a book if it's not good though. but am glad I hadn't especially
...more
Jennifer
Feb 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humour
John Crace abbreviates 100 works from the 1900s to the 1990s including such modern classics as Heart of Darkness and Death in Venice. It is a book those who don't take the literary style of some much loved and acclaimed authors too seriously. I laughed out loud at some of his parodies and this is my prefered version of The Golden Bowl by Henry James. It will also amuse those who started works such as Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day and decided life was too short to go on reading.
Phillip Edwards
John Crace writes the Digested Read column in The Guardian in which he reviews new books by distilling them into a few parodic paragraphs, and here he does the same to a hundred 20th Century classics (ten from each decade). He gives you the gist of each book garnished with some wickedly irreverent humour.

A bookaholic would enjoy receiving this book for Christmas every bit as much as an alcoholic would love to be given a box of liqueurs.

I'm loving it.

Hic.
Malcolm
Aug 10, 2014 rated it it was ok
I loved John Crace's Digested Read pieces in the Guardian but this book was an ubpleasant read. Either twentieth century English Lit was nothing but disguised porn or Mr Crace is unhealthily obsessed. I had bought two copies of this - one for me and one for a friend. I can't tell you how embarassed I am to have given this to a friend. I'm not particularly over-sensitive or prudish but explicit sexual detail and obscene language is not the hallmark of great comic writing.
Philippe
John Crace satirises 100 popular 20th century books by condensing the plot in the style of the original book.

Fun, but really only so if you have read the original books (I admit I haven't read all 100 of them). Also the parodies seem to lack the bite of the ones in his Guardian column. Still a good read to have on my phone as each "book" only takes a couple of minutes to read.

Louise Armstrong
May 31, 2016 rated it liked it
Very clever, very funny, but probably works best as a newspaper column. More than two at a sitting is a bit depressing.

It's so much easier to poke fun than it is to create anything. I loved when I read Vincent Van Gogh got upset with critics who were harsh on his fellow artists. He's right. It takes far more heart and guts to write a book than to parody it.
Sarah
Apr 14, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Poor attempt to be funny. The books I did read were ruined by Crace and the remaining 90 chapters were just boring banter. First chapter was sorta fun but it wore off immediately after that. Proud I even finished this.
Antonio Nunez
Jul 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a compilation of Crace's "Digested Read" columns for London's Guardian. The concept is that he will summarize any work of fiction in 600 words of less, and then he will summarize his summary in 6 words or less. When it works, it is brilliant. And it works. Mostly.
Andrea
Jul 04, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016
Only read the chapters about books I already know. Mildly amusing, but also rather cynical.
Sarah
Obviously it's only worth reading the parodies of the novels you've read and know well but those are hilarious.
Lesley
Jul 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Clever, funny, and made me realise I've still got some reading to do - I haven't read 32 of the 100 books that he parodies.
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