Book Review: P J O’Rourke ~ Holidays in Hell (1988)

Satire notoriously ages badly. So much of it depends on the readers knowledge of the setting and personality of what is being satirised. Once the moment is gone so has the point of the humour. Consider the cartoon below. It doesn’t tell you that the two principals are Disraeli and Gladstone it’s assumed you know that. It’s also assumed that you know the political context.

Gladstone (left); Disraeli (right)

PJ on the other hand can be read with pleasure now regardless of actual knowledge. He’s a master of the craft. His speciality is being a foreign reporter of an unusual genre. He reports events and satirises them at the same time.

Try this. This was written about Lebanon during a vicious period of Israeli partial control with various militia groups simultaneously conducting a civil war in 1984.

…Lebanon is notably free of tour groups and Nikon-toting Japanese. The beaches, though shell-pocked and occasionally mined, are not crowded. Ruins of historical interest abound; in fact, block most streets. Hotel rooms are plentiful. No reservation is necessary at even the most popular restaurant (though it is advisable to ask around and find out if the place is likely to bombed later). And what could be more unvarnished and authentic than a native culture armed to the teeth and bent on murder, pillage and rape?” p23

This entry was posted in History, Humour, Politics, Travel, War and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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