About Me

Kyle Smith (Twitter: @rkylesmith) is critic-at-large for National Review, theater critic for The New Criterion and the author of the novels Love Monkey and A Christmas Caroline. Type a title in the box above to locate a review.

Buy Love Monkey for $4! "Hilarious"--Maslin, NY Times. "Exceedingly readable and wickedly funny romantic comedy"--S.F. Chronicle. "Loud and brash, a helluva lot of fun"--Entertainment Weekly. "Engaging romp, laugh-out-loud funny"-CNN. "Shrewd, self-deprecating, oh-so-witty. Smith's ruthless humor knows no bounds"--NPR

Buy A Christmas Caroline for $10! "for those who prefer their sentimentality seasoned with a dash of cynical wit. A quick, enjoyable read...straight out of Devil Wears Prada"--The Wall Street Journal

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  • Pippa and the Perfect Posterior

    By kyle | October 23, 2012

    Pippa Middleton has a book on celebrating out, and we have a bit of fun with it in today’s Post. I have a little sidebar that mainly consists of bum jokes.

    Topics: Britain | 1 Comment »

    Back in New York

    By kyle | June 3, 2012

    In my Sunday column, I explain (only 2 days after the 20th anniversary of the day I moved to New York City) why London is no competition for the title of world’s lead city.

    Topics: Britain, New York City | 11 Comments »

    Athens, Calif.

    By kyle | May 20, 2012

    How does the Greek crisis differ from what’s going on in California? I suppose California can’t drop out of its currency and devalue. But that kind of makes it worse. More in my Sunday column.

    Not unrelatedly, David Cameron mumbled yesterday (this is an exact quote), “Action needs to be taken, contingency plans need to be put in place and the strengthening of banks, governance, firewalls–all of those things need to take place very fast.” Did you ever hear such meaningless rubbish? He might as well have strung together a random sequence of words. There never should have been a Euro in the first place. “Firewalls” and “governance” aren’t going to change that. Former Tory Chancellor Nigel Lawson says: “I fully understand wy he felt obliged to say that….But it is, of course, complete nonsense….A successful Eurozone is an impossibility. European Monetary Union, to give it its full name, was doomed from the start. The disaster which we see unfolding today, most acutely in Greece but increasingly elsewhere in the Eurozone, too, was not only predictable but predicted.”

    Meanwhile, present Tory chancellor George Osborne says the solution is….more Europe! That’ll work.

    Topics: Britain, Politics | 2 Comments »

    “George Galloway Is a Muslim”

    By kyle | May 14, 2012

    The New Statesman reports that George Galloway, the MP who recently regained his place in Parliament, secretly converted to Islam. Says Jemima Khan in The New Statesman:

    “George Galloway, MP for Bradford West, is a Muslim. He converted more than ten years ago in a ceremony at a hotel in Kilburn, north-west London, attended by members of the Muslim Association of Great Britain. Those close to him know this. The rest of the world, including his Muslim constituents, does not.
    “‘So you converted?’ I ask, at the end of our lunch….
    “‘I can’t answer that. God knows who is a Muslim….’ he answers breezily.
    “”I know someone who attended your shahadah [the Muslim conversion ceremony].’ He stares at me across the table, penetrating blue eyes squinted, pausing for the first time in an hour….”

    Throughout the interview with Khan, Galloway deflects questions on his being a Muslim. When his special adviser is asked why Galloway won’t publicly admit to being a Muslim, she replies, “Jemima, you know how it is….”

    Galloway was once captured on video declaring, to Saddam Hussein, “Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability.”

    The New Statesman is being sued by Galloway over the story.

    Topics: Britain, Politics | 2 Comments »

    UK Government Employing Human Alarm Clocks

    By kyle | April 27, 2012

    [cross posted to The Corner]

    From today’s Daily Mail:

    Carl Cooper thought he was doing a public service by
    offering seven benefits claimants the chance to work for him.
    But the company boss was flabbergasted when none of them
    turned up on the first day.

    None of the seven even called to say they wouldn’t be coming in. When Cooper, who has a marketing firm called Car Smart, starting calling around, here is what happened.

    Four of the seven also claimed torrential rain had put them off.
    One was unhappy about the prospect of paying a £5 [$8] train fare
    and another called at 12:45 pm and said, ‘Oh, sorry — I overslept.’

    It would appear that the average layabout needs a little more motivation. Never fear! The government is on the case. From today’s Times of London:

    Town hall officials have been told to get down on their
    hands and knees and “clean the floors” of the homes they visit
    under David Cameron’s Troubled Families programme.

    They have also been urged to turn up at family homes
    at 7am if necessary to get parents out of bed and
    children ready for school on time. The orders were
    issued by the programme head, Louise Casey, who said
    that she had seen too many projects like this fail because
    officials simply arrive with clipboards and “monitor decline”.

    “They watch, they check, they assess. They assess the
    fact that the floors need to be cleaned. But they
    don’t actually make any difference. There is no lasting
    change,” she said.

    “I want to see people rolling up their sleeves and
    getting down and cleaning the floors if that is what
    needs to be done. If a family needs to be shown
    how to heat up a pizza, show them how to do it.
    If it takes going round three times a week
    at 7am to get Mum up, then do it.”

    The $2 billion program Casey is referring to is a direct outgrowth of last summer’s brutal, opportunistic outbreak of vandalism and looting by aimless youths who laughingly referred to their spree as “free shopping.”

    The Prime Minister pledged to help to turn around
    the lives of the 120,000 most troubled families in
    England just after taking office in 2010.
    The plans were given added urgency by the riots
    last summer, after which Mr Cameron said that he
    would put “rocket boosters” under the
    project to make sure that it got off the ground.
    That led to the appointment of Ms Casey, who has
    handled several large projects for governments in the past.

    These large projects include “initiatives on homelessness and antisocial behavior” under the Labour government and “victim support” under the current coalition of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. So we see one government failure (to handle basic law and order) leading to its refusing to blame itself and instead expanding into bewildering new areas (investigating “at risk” families, as if we don’t know what sorts of habits lead to membership in the underclass). That, in turn, leads to the reductio ad absurdum of government paying people to be roving human alarm clocks.

    Perhaps the beneficiaries of this program can aspire to a future in which they, too, can get good government jobs awakening fellow citizens.

    Topics: Britain | No Comments »

    Hulk Go to Parliament!

    By kyle | April 24, 2012

    They probably thought, “This bloke is going mental.” At that point, I saw red. I thumped them with my fist and my head – not with massive viciousness, just enough to sting them…

    A few weeks ago a Labour member of parliament got drunk and went a bit amazingly bonkers in a bar (located inside the House of Commons!) and head-butted and beat up three Conservatives and accidentally one of his own Labour colleagues. It took about eight policemen sitting on him to end the incident.

    But the full story of Eric Joyce is ever so much richer; these were just the latest incidents in a long career of amazing “biffing,” as the ex-Army major calls it in a largely unapologetic rundown of his history of brawling. Joyce is such a raging, er… rage case that if he didn’t exist, Marvel comics might have invented him. (Amusingly, he’s been banned from all pubs for three months.) Hollywood should get this guy’s number. Or maybe he should be on “The Apprentice.”

    Topics: Britain | 1 Comment »

    An Even Crueler Attack on Morgan Spurlock

    By kyle | April 20, 2012

    Really, there is no nastier ways to criticise (it’s happening!!! I’ve been in London too long!) the Spurlockiness of Morgan than to actually quote the man. In the Mail on Sunday a couple of weeks ago, he made an effort to sum up British quirks in hilariously new ways. This is what he came up with. As you will see, every point he makes is a cliche. (Except the thing about dating, which is just odd.) I remind you that this is a man who has supposedly studied the UK. In other words, this is not just what he came up with on the way in from the airport. Here’s the UK according to Morgan.

    1. The Weather. You’re obsessed with it, infatuated. I walked into the studio in London on the first day and said hello. The first reply was about the weather. Everyone I met mentioned it: what it was like, what it was going to be like…[etc]

    2. Churchill’s assertion that the U.S. and Britain are two nations divided by a common language still stands….as for regional accents – there are parts of northern Britain and Scotland where I need an interpreter. There are a few archetypes of Brits that still exist in the U.S. – you’re all lords and ladies or Cockney chimney sweeps or James Bond or very dastardly villains. It’s something about the accent. You sound 30 per cent smarter than us…[etc]

    3. Tea. No matter how good the hotel or the restaurant you’re in, the coffee is terrible. But the tea is great [etc.]

    4. Money. London is a really expensive place to live. If I get a cab to the airport at home it will cost me $40. Here it’s £100. It’s an obscene amount. Eating out is expensive. Movies are [etc]

    5. Beer. You do enjoy a tipple here. And not just a couple. When someone says, ‘Let’s have a pint’ they mean four or five. Going for ‘a beer’ means ‘we are going to the pub and we probably won’t leave till closing time’. And you don’t like to be parted from your beer – even if it is warm

    6. Dating. American dating mores are very different from yours. At home it’s acceptable to go out with two or three people at the same time [etc]

    7. Cricket. Test cricket is one of the hardest things on this Earth for an American to watch. I’ve tried and I can’t. It’s just agony, like paint drying [etc.]

    8. Rules. You’re very sensible when it comes to crossing the road. You do it in the allotted places. Americans don’t care where they cross [etc.]

    9. The Monarchy. There appears to be this divide in your country between those who love the Queen, the whole pageant, and those who don’t [etc].

    10. Queuing. You love a good queue. I thought it was a joke until I saw it for myself. I drove past a bus stop and there was the line about a dozen people long. The bus wasn’t even in sight but there they were in a perfect line. Our cultures are not that far apart, the world continues to get smaller, but there are still these little quirks that separate us and that’s a good thing.

    Topics: Britain, Movies, TV | 6 Comments »

    Gill on Boris

    By kyle | April 17, 2012

    A very funny piece was in the Sunday Times (paywall) this week in which TV critic/restaurant critic AA Gill hit the campaign trail with London’s shambling manboy Tory mayor Boris Johnson — who even in a super-liberal district of the country is amazingly popular. Anyway, Gill does something that’s pretty hard to do–he is funny about his subject, and yet more or less fond, at the same time.

    [Johnson] is here to glad-hand the locals. He grabs a handful of leaflets: “My nine-point plan for a greater London.”

    It’s full of lots of pictures of Boris: Boris reading meaningfully, Boris shaking hands warmly, Boris standing between men in hi-vis jackets fraternally, Boris in a hard hat hardly, Boris with policemen arrestingly, Boris planting a tree with black children woodenly, Boris with old ladies geriatrically, Boris with bike bipedally. And the only picture without Boris is of No 10 Downing Street, wishfully.

    The mayor bundles down the street with his characteristic, head-down gait, like a man going to settle a score. He stops people loudly, with an exaggerated politeness, asks if he can give them a leaflet and rely on their vote, adding needily that they mustn’t forget to vote. Everyone nods and says yes.

    He runs away down the hill towards Shepherd’s Bush, Oxfordshire, Wales, America. “Where am I going?” he demands of the sky.

    “The wrong way,” answers his minder, a nice girl called Camilla from Central Office. “Ah,” he spins round and retraces his steps.

    An economically unencumbered man, resting for a day’s benchwork, is immensely excited to see Boris. He flourishes a copy of The Big Issue. “Ah, yes, right, of course,” mutters Boris, searching his pockets for the loose change that all savvy candidates carry for chuggers, tin-rattlers and Big Issue-sellers.

    “No, no,” says the man, pulling the magazine back. It’s his personal copy, he wants Boris to sign it. “I got Ringo on Portobello Road,” he says. The cover photo of Simon Cowell has Ringo printed on it. Boris scribbles on Cowell’s chin and hands over a leaflet. We move on, briskly.

    Topics: Britain, Politics | No Comments »

    An NYC-Like Race for Mayor of London

    By kyle | April 12, 2012

    I have an op-ed in The Post today about the neck-and-neck race for mayor of London, in which an ex-Socialist faces off against an appealingly gruff Tory.

    Topics: Britain, Politics | 1 Comment »

    Peter Hitchens for Parliament

    By kyle | April 8, 2012

    Conservative Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens, who trashes the Tory Party every week but has also disparaged rival right-wing party UKIP, says he’s willing to run for Parliament this week.

    Topics: Britain | No Comments »

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