Thursday, 28 May 2009

Can't be arsed thinking of a title for this. I'm not in the mood this morning, so here's a poe-faced post about work

Good morning everybody.

("Good morning Mr. John")

I've chosen as the theme of today's assembly Halldor Laxness' novel Independent People.

Part of my job as a copywriter involves staring out the window chewing a pen and drawing really really small, spidery-weird scribbles in a scamp pad that only I can understand (a bit like something off Most Haunted). Then there's the other part of my job - the writing bit- that involves trying to find something really interesting to say about something that's (usually but not always) terrifyingly dull.

Take for instance "sheep farming in Iceland in the early 1930's." Yaaa-aa-aawn. You'd need a glovebox full of coke and a 3-way blowjob on the end of it for that to grab your attention, right? Wrong! Because Independent People isn't just one of the greatest novels aboout sheep farming. In Iceland. In the 30's. It's one of the greatest, most intelligent, lyrical, and captivating novels you're ever likely to read.

A kind of weird cross between James Herriot and Dostoevsky, the novel follows the story of Bjartus, a croftsman, stubbornly scraping a living on a shithole patch of land, determined to be beholdent to no-one. And whilst the prospect of the narrative might sound (like a brief for some financial services shelf-wobblers) unremittingly bleak, the sheer technical quality of Laxness' writing turns Independent People into an engrossing, rewarding, it-changed-my-life masterpiece. Because good writing demands to read again and again, whether it's a two-page description of a rain-storm on an Icelandic crofthouse (which I read 4! times I was so impressed with it) or the instruction manual for a new kind of gas chamber. Good writing doesn't just make makes things palatable, it makes things delicious.*

So the next time a brief makes your heart sink, just write in the What is Required box: "600 pages on sheep farming in Iceland in the 30's."

Oh, and read Independent People, too.

*How fucking gay do I sound!?

No comments: