Circumstances beyond my control meant that I haven't been able to keep up with the controversy surrounding the Pope's Regensberg speech, but I'm struck by the fact that before the bru-haha exploded I had noted a couple of things arising from a reading a copy of John Sutherland's mildly interesting How to Read a Novel.
Writing about book titles, notes a theory that The Da Vinci Code 'started its slow burn to perennial bestsellerdom because for those reading it in, say, an airport departure lounge Brown's book could masquerade as a respectable tome on Renaissance art. Had the author called it 'Spawn of Jesus', the novel might have joined 95 per cent of the thriller genre in oblivion.' I guess that whilst I holding Our Lord's name in the highest respect, I'm probably not alone amongst fairly serious Catholics in being amused at the notion of there being a book out there called 'Spawn of Jesus'.
When writing about those endorsements one sees on the covers and dustjackets of books, Sutherland recounts the following anecdote. One Ben Macintyre writing in The Times book supplement was unwise enough to comment that he didn't have high hopes for a forthcoming novel by one of Tony Blair's former PR staff, Lance Price. He wrote, 'Perhaps Time and Fate will be the corking political thriller that Blair's Britain so badly needs, but somehow I am doubtful.' When the book was published, the cover bore the following endorsement: 'The corking political thriller that Blair's Britain so badly needs' -The Times