Holland, Merlin. Coffee with Oscar Wilde. London: Duncan Baird Publishers, 2007. Summary
: An imagined interview over a cup of coffee between a modern-day aficionado and the legendary Oscar Wilde. Comments
: Technically speaking, this is one of those compact little gift books stocked at stationary stores and the like to entice impulse buyers. And yeah, it was an impulse buy for me too, but it caught my eye while browsing the closeout piles at Barnes & Noble the other day for a slightly different reason: The "interviewer" in this case is Oscar Wilde's own grandson, Merlin Holland. Okay, so you don't see that
everyday. I just couldn't resist the temptation to see how it turned out.
All in all, Coffee with Oscar Wilde
(one of a seven-part "Coffee with" series) is a relatively good capsule biography of Wilde--it makes him feel all too human--especially once it gets to the parts that made him infamous. If you're looking for nuanced interpretations of his literary works, though, it would be best to take your business elsewhere. Some of the statements on life and art also seem rather contradictory. Naturally, it comes as no surprise, given who's doing the writing here, that the interviewer was rather more deferential than I would have preferred. Rating
- Reasonably diverting, if not too thought-provoking. Nice, light reading for a time when you're bored or seeking distraction between more important tasks.