I mentioned an interview he gave, but did I mention that Jave de Lasse has written a novel?
And yet ’tis so. Another critic has succumbed to the deadly temptation to practise what they preach – with typically poor results. Which is not to say that Declining Bore is the worst novel I’ve read this millennia, but that it remains, all things told, a mediocre mound of lazy tawdry nonsense. And when I say lazy I mean, of course, that it is not really a novel at all; simply a cack-handed reworking of de Lasse’s life. Weird, then, that it doesn’t work. A set of memoirs might have been welcomed with (partially) open arms. But in trying to boil everything down into a novel de Lasse has lost the flavour of it all.
Still, for someone who knows de Lasse, there are a handful of interesting passages. Take this description of Mary Potter on page 36:
She looked like someone had put too much baking powder in the mix, allowing her to rise quite out of proportion; her doughy breasts forever tumbling and bubbling out of the habitual blouse. It was bad enough as it was, but in the summer they seemed to get still larger. Was the cake still cooking?
One does not have to be Sam Spade to recognise in this a portrait of my (and de Lasse’s) former colleague Peggy Grounter. Not an especially winning portrait, I must say, but a fairly accurate one (and once you’ve read his portrayal of his ex-wife, you’ll agree that Mary Potter comes out of the book pretty well).
Seeing as my ex-colleague appears in his novel – and that the book is, essentially, a reworking of his life – some readers may be wondering: do I feature? The answer to this is that, as far as I can tell, I don’t. Of course, de Lasse and I aren’t as close as we used to be; although this might have given him the perfect opportunity to get back at me. And yet I search in vain (and with no small relief) for a character resembling me.