Brand’s notoriously clotted prose is still here, despite the gracious intervention of an editor. On BBC’s Newsnight last week, Brand overcooked his matey English accent and spoke of “us ordinary people,” attacking the bourgeois notion that verbs require proper conjugation. But in print, Brand writes like this: ”This attitude of churlish indifference seems like nerdish deference contrasted with the belligerent antipathy of the indigenous farm folk, who regard the hippie-dippie interlopers, the denizens of the shimmering tit temples, as one fey step away from transvestites.”
These are sentences that stupid people think are smart; a simple concept brutally assaulted by a thesaurus. When he hits upon a phrase he likes, the reader should prepare to be smothered by it. Scattered throughout Revolution, Brand denounces “the occupants of the bejeweled bus,” “the bejeweled fun bus of privilege,” “the eighty-five occupants of the bejeweled bus of privilege,” “the occupants of the bejeweled bus,” the “bejeweled bus with eighty-four other plutocrats,” and a “bejeweled misogynist making money by moving ice.” The writing isn’t just excruciatingly bad, but exhaustingly repetitive.
But Brand isn’t a writer, no matter how much he fancies himself one, so fairness demands we cut him a tiny bit of slack. He is, though, a comedian, so there is little excuse for the painfully limp jokes, often lurking at the end of a sentence in parentheses: “You know me, when I started this book I really thought I might be able to write my version of, I dunno, Mein Kampf (whatever happened to that guy?)”; “I mean, if Gandhi can write a letter to Hitler, lovingly requesting that he step back from genocide (that went well!)”; “He—remarkably and with a straight face—tied it in to 9/11 (you remember those towers; there were two of ’em, I think)”; “…that cuddly ol’ Thatcher chum, General Pinochet—although if you ask me he wasn’t that general; he was specifically a bit of a bastard.”