Being a fan of David Mitchell’s work on series such as Would I Lie to You? and QI, I was happy to borrow this book from a local library for a bit of light reading. I could hear Mitchell’s distinctive voice in my head as I read this collection of columns, originally written for the Observer between 2009 and 2014. Unfortunately, the book didn’t live up to my expectations however.
Thinking About It Only Makes It Worse did provide a few chuckles and displayed Mitchell’s acerbic wit, however I found it a little bit of a struggle to get through. The book’s introduction is a reflective look on the global financial crisis of 2008, followed by a range of commentaries on topics including pop culture, politics and current affairs. Being Australian, I found the articles too Eurocentric, although you can generally get the gist if you have a little knowledge of international affairs. The articles are also likely to date or become obscure over time given the subjects and people discussed, such as advertising, BBC television and the 2010 UK general election.
Mitchell provides some entertaining observations whilst also expressing his irritations, most likely stirring up some controversy in the process. He is intelligent, self-deprecating and has a knack for providing well-considered arguments on both well-known and trivial events, but disappointingly this collection fell a little flat with me. To me it didn’t fully articulate the astute humour I am accustomed to from David Mitchell and I consider his comment articles are perhaps better read as they are periodically published.
What’s wrong with calling a burglar brave? Why are people so f***ing hung up about swearing? Why do the asterisks in that sentence make it okay? Why do so many people want to stop other people doing things, and how can they be stopped from stopping them? Why is every film and TV programme a sequel or a remake? Why are we so reliant on perpetual diversion that someone has created chocolate toothpaste? Is there anything to be done about the Internet? These and many other questions trouble David Mitchell as he delights us with a tour of the absurdities of modern life – from Ryanair to Downton Abbey, sports day to smoking, nuclear weapons to phone etiquette, UKIP to hotdogs made of cats. Funny, provocative and shot through with refreshing amounts of common sense, Thinking About It Only Makes It Worse celebrates and commiserates on the state of things in our not entirely glorious nation.