Some extremely amusing furore this week over the publication of some new material by double Booker winner Hilary Mantel, in particular the title story of her new collection of short fiction The Assassination Of Margaret Thatcher.
The first thing to say (as this Guardian article does) is that there's a supreme irony in Thatcher's old PR guru Tim Bell expressing some purse-lipped disdain about "taste" or "decency" or "morality", this being the man who did PR work for General Pinochet, for goodness' sake.
Secondly, it does strike me that those kicking up a fuss about this must just be the sort of people who never read any fiction, since fiction does this sort of thing all the time. Heaven forbid that any of them should peruse even the title page of my copy of JG Ballard's seminal (in every sense) 1970 work The Atrocity Exhibition, lest they have some sort of seizure:
I draw your attention to items 10, 14, 15 and the two items in the Appendix in particular. It was Why I Want To Fuck Ronald Reagan that got the book's first American print run pulped prior to distribution. I know I've said it before, but if you have the remotest interest in boundary-stretching 20th-century fiction you really need to read some Ballard, probably The Atrocity Exhibition and Crash plus as many of the short stories as you can get your hands on.
Let's hope nobody tells Tim Bell about what happens at the end of Inglourious Basterds.