The Ultimate Book of Heroic Failures

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 November, 2011, 12:00am


The Ultimate Book of Heroic Failures
by Stephen Pile
Faber and Faber (e-book)

How literary agents must love Christmas. The season of giving makes tomes such as The Ultimate Book of Heroic Failures so easy to offer as a gift. The ultimate stocking-filler, it is endlessly engaging, instructive, guaranteed to generate laughs and, for the attention span-challenged, organised into quickly read chunks. None of which is to say, of course, that the work would be any less attractive at other times of year, being the perfect book from which to glean anecdotes to make you that much more interesting in the pub. What Pile calls the culmination of his life's work in this area of 'scholarship' amounts to a sort of reverse Guinness World Records book, one in which incompetence is honoured instead of success. So here, among legions of others, we have the exploits of Brazil's Worst Footballer, Mauro Shampoo (really); the Least Successful Learner Driver; the Least Intimidating Bank Robber (who was arrested for being drunk and disorderly), and the Least Successful Sheepdog. Whatever your species, as Pile says: 'ability is accidental'.