Book: The Light's on at Signpost by George MacDonald Fraser

Fraser has written many brilliant and hilarious books. This isn't one of them.

George MacDonald Fraser
The Light's on at Signpost
HarperCollins, 2002
ISBN 0-00-713646-3

I am a big fan of George MacDonald Fraser's books. His Flashman novels are brilliant and hilarious. His McAuslan books are even more hilarious and his serious history is fascinating. They're all among my favorite books. This book is very much unlike his previous books. Alas, one of the ways it's unlike them is that it's not all that good.

The Light's on at Signpost (the title is a reference to the end of the famous motorcycle race that takes place on the Isle of Man where he lives) is a sequence of essays and short memoirs. Some are about writing screenplays for Hollywood movies (Octopussy and The Three Musketeers are his most famous). If you're interested in stories about Hollywood, they may be of interest to you.

Most of the the rest of the essays amount to rants about how things used to be better. Some of them are nonsensical by my standards. Some of them have more than a grain of truth to them: the EU is deeply un- and even anti-democratic. I wish that he had written the rants as rational arguments. If he had, the good ones would have been persuasive. As it is. they're not. Mr Fraser warns the reader more than once in the course of the book that he's writing rants rather than arguments, but it's still a pity and unworthy of his considerable abilities.

Near the end of the book is an autobipgraphical sketch which will be of interest to fans like me.

Posted: Sun - November 16, 2003 at 08:53   Main   Category: