Arms and the Critics…

Newton Emerson returns to form with this satirical literary critique of Sinn Fein’s performance during its long journey from rejection to acceptance of policing and justice. For instance: “2005’s long-awaited sequel ‘Arms and Aardvarks’ was described as ‘dreadfully slow’, ‘poorly plotted’ and ‘lacking a sense of completeness'”.

Gerry Adams will publish the third volume of his political memoirs at the end of January, according to industry sources, but only if favourable reviews can be guaranteed in advance. The book, provisionally entitled ‘Pigs and Parlours’, will explore the Sinn Fein leader’s personal struggle to recognise the criminal justice system after youths set fire to his wheelie-bin. Publishers are confident that it will sell out but the author is thought to have serious reservations about the final chapter.

“Like most creative people, Gerry Adams is surprisingly sensitive,” said Irish Times literary editor Ulysses Grant. “He finds it difficult to finish anything unless he’s absolutely sure that everyone will love it.”

Mr Adams has received mixed reviews in the past. His 1994 work ‘Sin and Cessation’ was widely regarded as a confident debut but 2005’s long-awaited sequel ‘Arms and Aardvarks’ was described as “dreadfully slow”, “poorly plotted” and “lacking a sense of completeness”. Mr Adams was subsequently blamed for the disastrous collapse of Puffin-Trimble-Albatross, which had underwritten the entire print run without updating its insurance.

To prevent a repeat of this unfortunate incident, Mr Adams is demanding positive reviews from everyone prior to publication. Critics known to admire the Sinn Fein leader’s style will be given a rough synopsis of his latest work while critics believed to be hostile will be told nothing at all.

If the reviews are favourable, Sinn Fein will call an ard fheis of its ard comhairle and release an ard back. Paper backing will follow in An Phoblacht.

“If the book doesn’t appear then the critics alone will be responsible and the readers of Ireland should hold them to account,” said a Sinn Fein spokesman. Sinn Fein’s own accounts were held in a wheelie bin until the disastrous fire which may or may not be movingly described in ‘Pigs and Parlours’.

Several advance reviews have already appeared in the specialist press.

The Whitehall and Cheltenham Intercept says: “Mr Adams will deliver a polished manuscript which should satisfy anyone in need of a manuscript or a polishing.”

The Drumcondra Occasional Reader says: “If Mr Adams’ previous work is any guide, then his next effort must be an improvement.”

The Hillsborough Hain & High says: “A book you can’t pick up is a book you can’t put down.”

However, the Ballymena Observer says: “We’ll review it when we’ve something to review”. Last night, Sinn Fein described the Ballymena Observer as “an enemy of the publishing process.”

There is some speculation in the industry that Mr Adams is simply stirring up a fuss to generate publicity.

“Sales will undoubtedly benefit from weeks of headlines like ‘Will he publish?’, ‘What’s in the book?’ and ‘Evil critics hinder Ireland’s greatest genius’,” said Ulysses Grant. “But Mr Adams should consider the long-term impact on his artistic credibility. What sort of author lets the critics decide if his latest work gets published? What successful author even cares about his critics at the end of the day? If an author feels that he has something important to say, shouldn’t he have the confidence in himself and his audience to just go ahead and say it?”

Sinn Fein reacted angrily to Mr Grant’s remarks.

“That’s a bigoted anti-republican analysis,” said a party spokesman.

“Any talk like that a month from now and we’ll call the police.”

First published in the Irish Times, Thursday 11th January 2006

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty