Slow Clarkson

23rd November 2007 at 00:00
For once I found myself disagreeing with the grand folk at the School Library Association. It seems delighted that lots of copies of Jeremy Clarkson's latest literary tome are flying into schools. The book is on its recommended reading list for boys.

I understand the thinking. Anything that gets boys reading has to be good, doesn't it? Well, maybe not. Jeremy Clarkson openly defends the destruction of speed cameras on Top Gear. Odd that. I thought it was a criminal offence. He is even more notorious for despising everything environmental.

Clarkson represents a lowest common denominator, a depressingly Cro-Magnon, petrol-headed image of masculinity that can only reinforce the worst aspects of laddishness. I am a much less well-known writer on the same list. Like many of my peers, I am trying to engage with boys at the same time as challenging aspects of their outlook. I have no problem with Clarkson being on the list, but permit me to be less sanguine about the benefits of reading him than are some school librarians.

Alan Gibbons, Children's author, Liverpool.

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