69 things to do with a dead Princess
-Stuart Home published by Canongate Books, 2002.

In 69 things to do with a dead Princess, Home - academic lecturer in punk - deconstructs lots and lots of contemporary fiction. It was described to me as 'literary criticism meets porn', and I have to say that that's a fairly accurate summary. There's a strange ventriloquist's dummy thing running through it, and the dummy eventually becomes a narrator. You end up unsure of how many characters are involved, and how many are creations of the protagonist, and who indeed the protagonist is. The title is borrowed from a book that may or may not exist that Home mentions: I haven't been able to find it, but I certainly wouldn't discount its existence. In it, the author carries Princess Diana's corpse around the 69 150 standing stones near Aberdeen. The book is constantly referred to, yet we know almost nothing about it. As Diana decomposes, the author purchases a bin bag so as to capture the deliquesence. We know that, at least.

Personally, I think Home loathes the literary establishment so much that he tries to write a book that is everything they would hate. There is no characterisation, (a concept he debunks in the book anyway) no real plot, you aren't made to sympathise with anyone, there's no clear thesis - just a string of little essays, there's a lot of gratuitous hardcore sex, and much of the book is conducted in the footnotes. I think that it's monstrously cool that one book does all these things. The thing is that such a book that did not also have incisive insight into the assumptions made by our post-imperialist culture and morality could be easily dismissed as pulp, and disregarded. That 69 things has these critiques of our most influential modern authors and thinkers makes it impossible to do so. It's been called an anti-book, a description I like. Home has had a lot of fun with this book, and you should, too.

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