Genre – Moaning Man
Mitchell Symons wrote what are quite simply the best trivia books in the world – This Book, That Book and The Other Book. I started reading them years ago, and have delved back into them several times since. So when I saw another book by Symons in a local charity shop recently, I thought it would be a great idea to give that a go.
Unfortunately, when he isn’t giving interesting pieces of trivia, Mitchell Symons is a horrific man. Reading like The Daily Mail in snippit form, this is a book that made me genuinely angry several times. The concept is that Symons has split everything that he hates into seven levels of hatred – like the seven levels of hell. He then gives you a little bit about each of them.
It is riddled with problems. The first is that Symons comes across as an arse. A massive quantity of the gripes he has are with the way people say things. As a random sample I have just by opening the book, he hates – at about level three of his stages of hate – ‘People who say “You do the math”‘. There are dozens of these. And when something such as that is higher than ‘People being falsely imprisoned for offences they did not commit’, it doesn’t really paint him out as the kind of person that should be compiling a list such as this.
His right wing views are all over the show here, and in so many cases that just made me want to shout at him to shut up. Yes, you are rich and middle class, and some things bother you, but you have had a lot more advantages than a lot of the people that you are moaning about in this book. People who disagree with you are not necessarily idiots. Things change, and you are left behind. Just because you don’t use a particular phrase, it doesn’t mean that there is a special place in hell for those who do. If puns truly make you that angry, then you are the one with a problem.
I understand that this book is probably meant far more tongue in cheek than this, and often it is portrayed that way with the (very) occasional self mocking tone that suggests Symons realises how daft this entire process is. But the constant negativity, and the two page long rants that sometimes occur don’t keep that tone up throughout the book, and overall the whole thing leaves you feeling like the writer is a pratt who isn’t worth listening to. Which is a shame, because before this, I would have had Symons down as a writer that I enjoyed and admired. He now has an odd position as someone who has had two reviews from me – one as a 10/10 and one as a 1/10.