In which the author reviews everything he found interesting in Borders
Alan Coren once wrote, in the forward to a collection of his essays, that he asked his publisher to identify the most popular genres of books. His publisher told him that the best-sellers were books about golf, books about cats and books about the Second World War. So Coren named his book Golfing for Cats and put a large swastika on the front cover.
I was reminded of this when I found a book called Dog Heroes of September 11th, a tribute to America's search and rescue dogs. With this publication, a new age for the dog book has dawned: from humble beginnings in guides to the care and maintenance of canines, through books which treat dogs as objects of fluffy sentiment and now onward and upward to the most noble and perhaps most profitable subject: the patriotic dog.
Dogsploitation ought to be the name for this genre of book; if it is not, I claim my place in the Oxford English Dictionary here and now. For years, it lagged behind the far more lucrative catsploitation trade, whose practitioners knew that a picture of a cat on a cool Greek roof was worth a thousand bucks. But cats do nothing but look cute and adorable. Dogs are cute, adorable and America's allies in the war against Terror.
I would continue with this review but I could not bring myself to look inside the book. Instead, I wandered to the magazines section, where the cover of this week's Listener asks the important question "do bananas give you too much potassium?" The answer, provided in the Nutrition section, is "no." Quite why the Listener poses alarming questions about fruit, to which it knows the answer is a reassuring negative, is a matter between the magazines publishers and its accountants.
The really alarming stuff is to be found in New Scientist. Somebody clever thinks we have hastened the end of the universe by looking at it. And if that is not bad enough, the universe has a huge hole in it, 900 million light years across. The string theorists think it is evidence that ours is one of many universes.
Oh well, at least there is a new Sigur Ros album out, for people who think Radiohead are too commercial. There is probably a new Nick Hornby novel as well; there usually is.