Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Book Review – Ben Elton Inconceivable

To be honest I was never enamoured with Ben Elton as a stand up comedian back in the 80s when we was all the rage. It was always the shouty too fast delivery for me, I didn’t get it although a lot of what he ranted about I could related to and/or agree with.

The first book I read of his was “The First Casualty” which I heard him talking about on a talk show and was intrigued by the concept held within it. Now that was a very good book and thoroughly worth a read as it had a lot of deep context within it and from then on I was sold on him as a satirical author.

For some reason I don’t rate Inconceivable as one of his best, as I say First Casualty or the recent Blind Faith are much better reads and intros to his work and if you want more laughs Gridlock is immensely funny. I recommended that to a Boston cab driver I had an interesting journey with once who subsequently emailed me to say only Brits can write satire like that. But this review is not about that it’s about an earlier book Inconceivable which I picked up cheap in a second hand shop.

So Inconceivable is the story of two 30 somethings who have been trying for a baby for 5 years without success and is written in the form of the two of them keeping secret diaries which was something the female of the couple got as a suggestion from somewhere. The story unfolds of their journey toward IVF treatment and also the changes in their relationship as they go along. So there are plenty of funny situations that they get into, having sex on a ley line for example and being caught by the police, how tricky it is to produce a sperm sample on demand and the ignominy on the various examinations and tests the lady has to go through.

Also I didn’t like the climax of the book, I applaud the author for facing some of the realities but suddenly it all seemed a bit rushed at the end, I felt let down in not getting to the bottom of exactly where the relationship was although maybe that was deliberate to leave you making your own mind up.

So a moderate thumbs up – if you’ve read others of his but not this one then I’d recommend it but as I say if you want an intro to Mr Elton’s work start elsewhere.


  1. I've read a few Ben Elton's, but bailed on this.. the Friends Reunited and Big Brother based ones were superb though..

  2. Wasn't that the book behind the film ... can't remember the title?

  3. It was Liz - Maybe Baby I think it was called

  4. he is a bit hit and miss as an auther, but like you say better than he is as a comic... gawd, did you see that revival of Saturday Night Live a year or two back?? They got Ben on as a special guest to do a bit of stand up and it was the most unfunny thing ever... the crowd was silent... ouch..

    Like some of his early books, popcorn, stark, yeah that big brother one is a cracker... not read his last few though. Should read first casualty being a big fan (erm, not sure 'fan' is the right word, but you know what i mean!!) of WW1.


  5. Can't say Ive ever heard of him, but most comedians do make quite good authors.

  6. I started a Ben Elton book a while ago - I didn't make it to the end but I was hoping that somewhere in the narrative I'd read "...nuffin' wrong wiv a birro politics - my name's Ben Elton, goodnight!"