Thursday, 2 October 2014

Ayoade on Ayoade

Who else is better to delve into the psyche of underappreciated genius Richard Ayoade than Richard Ayoade himself?

Our lives are fictions. We construct this fake reality that we’re happy, when really we want to smash everybody’s faces in and make them kneel down before us and beg for mercy.

If you’re hoping to learn more about Richard Ayoade or his work, you may be disappointed. Ayoade on Ayoade is much more fiction than fact; a parody of film journalism and self-serving biographies, from the viewpoint of someone who thinks they're incredibly influencial and misunderstood. The book is split into several parts. To start, journalist Ayoade interviews film-maker Ayoade who is arrogant and ignorant of his own mediocrity. Then there are a series of “articles” written by what seems to be a slightly different Ayoade persona. Then there are the appendixes, which vary from more articles and film-making advice, to letters from his agent, Terrence Malick’s social media and a variety of lists.

There are a lot of footnotes. Like the whole work, they are used tongue in cheek, in fact the first footnote comes with an apology for taking the reader away from the page. Within the footnotes, there are references to the appendixes, so really it’s a book to flick back and forth in and may make it unwieldy in ebook form.

The pre-emptive strike. Ayoade is so terrified of criticism that he prefers to criticise himself (often mid-sentence, and in parentheses) before the reader has a chance to demur.

It’s a strange and random little book, one I liked in parts with plenty of chuckles but it felt like just too much of the same. Perhaps it is one to dip in and out of when you need a bit of oddness to take your mind off reality. Instinctively I would call this experimental fiction but it really is poking fun at that sort of thing.

Even so-called “short novels” are pretty long and can take several hours to read, so make sure you stay hydrated.

I laughed at The Art of Adaptation, 10 (or should that be 9?) commandments on how to adapt a book into a script. Hint: it helps to read the book and not just Wikipedia. I also enjoyed the woes of the bit part actor in the parts describing his time on set of apocalyptic-sci-fi-rom-action-com Boom Goes the Neighborhood! I guess this is where I became confused if this was supposed to be the same Ayoade that was interviewed. He’s a bit oblivious to the fact he’s not really wanted but he doesn’t seem the same pretentious guy as the director/writer persona.

Ayoade on Ayoade is published by Faber & Faber and is available now in paperback and ebook editions. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review via NetGalley.

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Shelve next to: The Quiddity of Will Self by Sam Mills



Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.

2 comments:

  1. Hmm. I can't decide if I want to read this or not. I'm glad it's not just a straight memoir or whatever because they drive me mad, but this might be a little too oddball for me. Maybe I'll wait until I see a copy in Waterstones and I'll have a quick flick through!

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  2. One to get from the library, perhaps, at least to start with. My gut instinct with anything Ayoade is to buy it anyway, because he's awesome - but I get the feeling that this could be a huge hit or a colossal miss depending on the reader. Thanks for this Ellie - I've been wondering about it ever since it first cropped up as an upcoming release, so it's good to know a bit more about what to expect!

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