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The Spoilerby Annalena Mcafee
Synopses & Reviews
A dark hyper-comedy set in London in the late 1990s during the last gasp of the newspaper wars just before the dot-com tidal wave--about two female journalists at opposite ends of their life and work who become locked in a fierce tango of wills and whose lives are forever changed by their (not-so-) brief (head-on) encounter.
At the novel's center--a legendary prize-winning war correspondent (called in her day "The Newsroom Dietrich" because of her luminescent beauty) now in her eighties, at the end of her career, who, over the decades, as the intrepid golden girl of the press, has been on the front lines or in the foxholes of every major theater of war of the twentieth century (Madrid; Normandy; Buchenwald; Berlin; Algiers; Korea; Vietnam). She is recognized everywhere (she finds fame mortifying these days); lionized for her fearless, politically informed, objective reporting; and now, though fragile and in an accelerating decline, her goddess-like beauty long gone, her style of writing--unbiased reportage--obsolete in the age of New Journalism, is rediscovered with the reissue of her frontline journalism, and the about-to-be-published collection of her Pulitzer Prize-winning dispatches. The other, a young up-and-not-so-coming reporter in her twenties; a degree in media studies, a freelance editor who compiles A-lists (Ten Best / Ten Worst; What's In / What's Out) for a down-market magazine of a newspaper specializing in celebrity gossip, unexpectedly sent to write a feature on the venerated "doyenne of British journalists"--to get the dirt on her glittering Hollywood days, her many affairs and three marriages...What ensues is a high-stakes, high-risk battle of wit and wills as lives are shaken, secrets unearthed, and headlines blast (unconfirmed) "truths," with one newspaper--the spoiler--playing off against another in a ruthless, desperate grab for sensation and circulation.
A debut novel guaranteed to catch the attention of journalists because it's all about them An entertaining satire and a poignant character study of two female journalists trying to survive in celebrity-obsessed, late-ninties Britain. There are two sides to every story.
Two women journalists — one old, one young, one a veteran war correspondent, the other a writer of celebrity gossip — meet for the first time. It is January 1997, the dying days of John Major's government, and newspapers, fighting for a dwindling readership, are plunging downmarket amid wild rumours that the internet is about to change the world forever. Honor Tait (b. 1917), one of the most renowned journalists of her era, is haunted by her past; Tamara Sim (b. 1970), who compiles lists of what's in and what's out for Psst , the weekend entertainment supplement of The Monitor, is struggling to secure her future, at any cost, in an increasingly precarious industry. When Sim is sent to interview Tait, their mutual incomprehension generates a rich seam of dark comedy. But when their different worlds finally collide, the consequences are devastating.
McAfee's trenchant first novel is part satire, part portrait of an era poised unknowingly on the brink of a technological revolution. New Labour is about to take over, newspapers are increasingly obsessed by the private lives of pop stars,
models and footballers, and Honor Tait and her kind are an endangered species. But is Tait really such a beacon of truth and integrity? And, as this darkly witty novel asks, is compassion the first casualty in the search for a good story?
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
ANNALENA MCAFEE was born in London and was educated at Essex University. McAfee has edited a collection of literary profiles, Lives and Works, and is the author of eight children's books. She has been a judge of the Orange Prize for Fiction, the South Bank Show Awards, and the Ben Pimlott Prize for political writing. She lives in London with her husband, the writer Ian McEwan.
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