Cressida Connolly

The Croc’s Larder

Nothing to be Frightened of

By

Jonathan Cape 250pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

I can’t think of a nastier way to die than in a crocodile’s larder. Imagine the scene: first of all you get bitten by a crocodile, then shaken until you lose consciousness. After that you are pulled under water and dragged into a specially created lair, within the bank of the river, but slightly above water level. You awake here, surrounded by putrefying carcasses, and realise that your destiny is to become another of their number. Then you die (suffocation? bleeding to death from your wounds?) and get eaten. You may even be eaten first.

Most people are either ignorant of crocodiles’ larders, or do not allow themselves to become unduly troubled by the thought of them. But those of us cursed with a morbid disposition can spend quite a lot of our time fretting about them. Julian Barnes is clearly such a man, for he talks about croc larders in Nothing to be Frightened of. This is a sort of memoir, in which Barnes introduces us to his parents, his brother and some of the writers he prefers; but mostly it is about his fear of death. 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'One of the reasons for its longevity is that it has virtually nothing to say about science and technology at all,… ,
    • 'The characters in many of these stories are trapped in the obsessive present tense of their own thoughts; in the m… ,
    • 'Libraries, for much of their existence, have embodied in microcosm many of the characteristics of the totalitarian… ,
    • 'Moss and Cynthia buy several properties through which to launder their ill-gotten gains, take lots of drugs, have… ,
    • 'Never mind the imperial cult. This is the cult of Boris. What happened to Rome?' From the LR archive:… ,
    • Thirty-two years ago this month, we published Muriel Spark's short story, 'A Playhouse Called Remarkable' Read it… ,
    • Time travel, bicycles and white horses populate @WomackPhilip's roundup of children's books by @marcussedgwick,… ,