Author and sometimes Crikey contributor Margot Saville reviewed Bob Ellis’ And So It Went: Night Thoughts in a Time of Change for the Sydney Morning Herald. Bob Ellis begged to differ:

PENDING LETTER TO THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

25.5.09

Sir,

It seems Margot Saville read only pages 137 to 161 of my book with any attention and I ask her to read a bit more of it and review it again. She should note this time its major characters Barack Obama, Robert Mugabe, John Howard, Malcolm Turnbull, Benazir Bhutto, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Teddy Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, Ingmar Bergman, Norman Mailer, Paul Newman, Joe Ramos Horta, Peter Collins, Cate Blanchett, Heath Ledger, George Orwell, Sarah Palin, William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Che Guevara and Saddam Hussein, none of whom she mentions, occupy more space in the book than my flatulence and impotence, which get only half a sentence, and that its major locations Mars, the Moon, Zimbabwe, Denver, East Timor, Baghdad, South Ossettia, Adelaide and Whipsnade Zoo are more widespread than the toilet, bedroom and Canberra restaurant she regards as its whole panorama.

What she clearly did was look up her own subject Maxine McKew in the index, read one page and begin writing immediately and flick about lazily relying on me for half her text, for which I now ask half her money. I ask her too to nominate the hundred pages I should cut out and apologise for saying no editing was done as I, at Penguin’s request, cut twenty-five thousand words and made alterations, the way you do, for legal, stylistic and structural reasons.

She should apologise too for saying more men read me than women (it’s the other way around) and for saying in Crikey I shared women with Paul Keating. The cuckold’s name is Malcolm Turnbull. If she won’t do these things I ask her to debate me any time, anywhere and read aloud to any audience the bits she finds boring.

Bob Ellis,
Palm Beach

Margot Saville responds:

According to my notes from the Ellis book launch, he did say “nameless women I shared with Paul Keating”, not Malcolm Turnbull. Of course, Turnbull is the one mentioned in the book, all 568 pages of which I have actually read, more than once.

In the interests of full disclosure, could said women now put up their hands and tell us which particular Alpha Male they slept with in 1973 and in what order? And give a rating?? There could be a book contract in it…

Peter Fray

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