Scoop with Squash Rackets

A blogger on a squash rackets weblog is posting a serial retelling of Scoop in which the mistaken identity is wrapped up in squash trivia. Here’s a link to the first installment, entitled “Desert Places (à la Evelyn Waugh).” In this case, the wrong Boot is sent to cover a story in an imaginary country on the Arabian Peninsula. The second installment has just been published.

The blogger’s identity is not otherwise revealed except by the name Peter Heywood. He may be a squash playing journalist who happens to be a Waugh fan. The project is explained in the first installment in these terms:

Evelyn Waugh‘s book ‘Scoop‘ was published in 1938. It is the supreme novel of the 20th-century English newspaper world, fast, light, entertaining and lethal. Remarkably, it’s a satire revered among successive generations of British hacks, the breed so mercilessly skewered in the book by Waugh, a one-time special correspondent for the Daily Mail…I’ve based John Boot’s club in London’s Pall Mall on the Royal Automobile Club whose premises have housed squash courts since the 1930s.

In another boost for Scoop, Ian Jack, veteran British journalist, gave this advice to a group of Indian journalism students, as reported by The Telegraph (Calcutta):

Q. What should be essential reading for anyone interested in journalism?

A. First, two novels — Scoop by Evelyn Waugh (1938) and Towards the End of the Morning by Michael Frayn (1967). Both are comic novels, because newspapers I think are essentially comic, in the end. The third is a book by Janet Malcolm, the The New Yorker writer, called The Journalist and the Murderer (1990). It’s very interesting… about the techniques of certain kinds of journalism and the moral quandaries posed by certain kinds of journalism…I’d also recommend people read an essay by George Orwell called Politics and the English Language (1946). It is about clarity and writing.


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