Saturday, November 04, 2006


Nul Points

The Telegraph reviews Tim Moore's latest book, Nul Points, a clever variation upon the old and honorable subject of Failure:

His latest wheeze is equally bizarre and, on the face of it, pointless: to track down and interview the 14 Eurovision acts who, since the voting system changed in 1975, received no points at all from any of the national juries. 'Nul points', he points out, has become such a widely accepted term for humiliating public failure that it even has an entry in the OED....

None the less, things look up when he goes to meet Jahn Teigen, the Norwegian Iggy Pop lookalike who was the first nulpointer back in 1978. Teigen, whose splay-legged leap at the end of his performance is seared into the memories of millions, is one of those boundlessly optimistic extroverts some of us would travel hundreds of miles to avoid, but Moore has fun with him, describing him as a 'chain-smoking serial gesticulator' and 'Norway's overlord of prog rock'... Finn Kalvik, Norway's second nonscorer in 1981, is found sunning himself on a Thai beach, and it slowly dawns on Moore that he's there primarily because it's not Norway: the humiliation rankles still.

Unfortunately, there's no US edition, and despite the fact that you really don't need to know anything about Eurovision to appreciate the basic idea of the book, I suspect that it won't get picked up over here. His previous book Do Not Pass Go -- also fascinating, funny, and without a US publisher -- was the subject of my first article for The Believer, and it's well worth picking up as a quite reasonably priced import copy on Amazon.

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