How we used to print

Tears were pouring down my face while reading, yet again, this weekend. This time though they were purely tears of laughter. Michael Frayn's Towards the End of the Morning (published in the States as Against entropy) is one of the funniest books I've read in some time.

Set in late 1960's Fleet Street, when journalists were mostly male, and lunches were usually liquid, it's a hilarious tale of life in one of the backwaters of a busy daily paper. John Dyson is responsible for editing the news stories that no-one else wants: tales of bygone days, the thought for the day, nature reviews, the crossword, and just about any other rubbish that gets pushed in his direction. He's responsible for a Dickensian elderly reporter (who dies unnoticed at his desk!), and young Robert Bell, stuck in a rut between a girlfriend he doesn't want and Mrs. Mounce, the predatory wife of a colleague.

The American title of the book says it all really. In spite of the journalists' best efforts entropy inevitably wins, with even the most orderly of events (a junket to the Middle East) moving rapidly from order to chaos. Incredibly funny, it's also a great snapshot of the dying days of Swinging London, and of those who are on the fringe of events. Thoroughly enjoyable, it's not the best known of Frayn's novels, and should be read a lot more widely. A very big thumbs-up.


Popular Posts