'The Hunger Games' left me uncomfortable, but the biggest shock has been my brush with Jeffrey Archer.
This was the week that I finally got to see The Hunger Games, generously donating my own £9.50 to the $356.9 million that the film has already taken. I’m afraid I didn’t enjoy it very much. The film is well made, well acted and surprisingly intelligent for a Hollywood blockbuster but I found it hard to escape from another swathe of images that were all around me – the aftermath of the massacre at Utøya in Norway. I have no ill will towards the film- makers but I’m still surprised that they got away with it. Dead teenagers strewn across a wood? If these had been American children who had been killed, would they have been quite so comfortable going ahead? Either way, right now it’s hard to think of such things in the context of entertainment.
Inevitably, the film lacked the depth and sophistication of the book, which poses interesting questions about authoritarian government and about voyeuristic, game-show television. It surely can’t be a coincidence that the evil presenter, Caesar Flickerman, bears more than a passing resemblance to our very own Simon Cowell – though perhaps with better clothes and less Botox. After JK Rowling and Stephenie Meyer, everyone was looking for the next big thing and it seems Suzanne Collins is just that. And I’m quoted on the covers! I’m not quite sure how this happened but it’s definitely good news, not because my name will help to sell any copies but because being on the cover of an estimated 36.5 million copies can’t be at all bad for my name.
Meanwhile, I’ve begun the editing process of my own book, Oblivion – at 205,000 words, the longest I’ve ever written. The process wasn’t helped by my editor cheerfully suggesting that I change the voice from the third person (he) to the first (I). Bizarrely, she believed this could be achieved by using the find/replace button on my computer when of course it would mean totally rewriting the whole bloody thing. As a result, I’m no longer speaking to her. No – let me rephrase that. Anthony is no longer speaking to Jane.
But the biggest shock of the week was finding myself on the back cover of Jeffrey Archer’s latest bestseller, The Sins of the Father. It follows an article I wrote for this newspaper and although I thought I was fairly even-handed at the time, careful editing by the publishers has turned my words into a rave. To be fair, I did (do not quote me on this) very much enjoy the book. But it’s a sad end to a 35-year career to find myself plastered over Archer’s backside, so to speak, and it isn’t what I expected. I certainly won’t go to the film.