Kevin Eldon’s 2014 book My Prefect Cousin: A Short Biography of Paul Hamilton has beautifully written jacket copy. It has a vivid introduction by Eldon recapping the genesis of this biography, from meeting the F&F publisher to discussing Hamilton’s impact (or lack thereof) on society. It also has a note from Hamilton, arguing that he disagrees with the way he is portrayed in this book but has been told he can seek no legal action. What My Prefect Cousin doesn’t have, apart perhaps from the jacket photo, is a clue that this biography is of a man who doesn’t exist.
I think I expected Eldon’s fictional biography of his stage/radio/TV character poet Paul Hamilton to be more subtle, to take itself more seriously, so that, like the jacket copy, you couldn’t tell that it was a work of fiction. I don’t know why I expected that. Eldon’s comedy is often over-the-top and clownish, so the opening interview with Hamilton’s mother going on for two pages about how much she vomited during her pregnancy is actually quite fitting.
Then I was surprised to find that indeed beneath the loud gags, there were in fact many subtle jokes. Hamilton has a way of speaking seriously without irony, so when he says something weird, which is often, it is especially funny. However, even though it is fun to read the “transcriptions,” I wish there was more from Eldon as Eldon (as the book’s writer), as there is often just a sentence or two (and hilariously recycled ones at that) opening each chapter.
Teaser posts are reviews based on just the first chapter.