Monday, September 08, 2008

Lost in Showbiz

If you count yourself amongst the numberless hordes for whom such esoterica as the contents of my blog roll hold an almost limitless fascination, you'll have noticed that there are a couple of additions to my list of noteworthies. Marina Hyde I discovered while eating baked potatoes at the offices of Orange. Forgive the specificity, but I won't readily forget, in a heroic attempt to stifle a laugh, snorting bits of tuna and cheese out of my own nostrils. Her column Lost in Showbiz is a thing of wonder, and not just because of its apocalyptic humour — the more trivial and soul-crushing her subject matter, the more elevated the prose becomes. Actually, and without permission, let me quote Clive James:

Marina Hyde is an Oxford graduate who now writes the kind of journalism that would have given her tutor a heart attack. She started her London career as a secretary on the Sun's show-business desk, and even after her transfer to the Guardian, where she currently writes three columns a week, she retained her detailed interest in the trivia of the celebrity culture. Her writings on politics show her seriousness and her writings on sport show her adventurous range, but her column "Lost in Showbiz", in my opinion, shows her at her most original. Very few writers who know that much about the fundamentally worthless are capable of being funny about it. She digs down fearlessly through the strata of the negligible and finds the underlying ephemerality. What makes this fantastic voyage worthwhile is her gift for conveying a moral view through the precision of her rhythmic prose, which depends on a complete control of syntax. ("Suffering almost unimaginably for his art comes Sir Ben Kingsley...") She has the knack, highly schooled in her case, of bringing everything in and making it fit the form: bric-a-brac castles. Admiring students should not imagine that they can do the same just by lightening up. It takes a feeling for the serious to treat what doesn't matter as if it mattered. The first seven links on the right lead to a string of pieces written in late 2005, when "Lost in Showbiz" found its unique and enviable tone. Further links to more recent pieces have since been added in response to sobbing cries of “More Marina!” from desperate fans.

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