Bookmarks: It’s bonking, bonkers, barking mad Boris

Lifestyle

Bookmarks: It’s bonking, bonkers, barking mad Boris

A fortnightly look at books, writers and reviews

Andrew Donaldson

Boris Johnson will, in all likelihood, be announced as the new British prime minister today. Among other things, his campaign to Downing Street has prompted renewed interest in his books, particularly his 2004 novel, Seventy Two Virgins (HarperCollins), a comic thriller about a plot to assassinate a US president during a UK state visit.

The novel’s protagonist is Roger Barlow, a bumbling, gaffe-prone MP who is hounded by the tabloids for his sexual indiscretions and totters on his bicycle through a story padded by much chatter of buxom women and mocking of Britain’s welfare policies. In other words, a man very much like Boris Johnson.

When his own words failed him, Johnson seemingly helped himself to those of other writers. The “lucky lady” bending over to retrieve something from a bag was described as “a sight to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained glass window”, which was pinched from Raymond Chandler’s Farewell, My Lovely (“She reached into her bag and slid a photograph across the desk, a five-by-three glazed still. It was a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained glass window …”)..

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