The Hatchet Job of the Year award, which was set up two years ago by the Omnivore, a review aggregation website, really ought to be my kind of thing. Like everybody else, I love reading really bad reviews – provided, of course, that they aren’t spearing my own books. And the judges’ tastes are impeccable. The winner of last year’s award, the Sunday Times journalist Camilla Long, is one of the funniest writers you could hope to read, and her evisceration of Rachel Cusk’s self-pitying memoir Aftermath – ‘In Cusk’s world, even the canapés are victims’ – is a joy.
And the other pieces on the shortlist were pretty good, too, in a memorably stinging way. Here’s Craig Brown, getting his teeth into Richard Bradford’s book about Kingsley Amis and Philip Larkin: ‘It is a triumph of “cut and paste” – indeed, such a triumph that by now Bradford must