Leaving aside its immediate aim of making the reader laugh, parody – literary parody especially – has an infinitely wider remit. Pace F R Leavis, it is ultimately a form of literary criticism, where the judgements are arrived at by amplifying a writer’s stylistic idiosyncrasies to the point where they collapse in a wounded heap. Anyone who has read Brown over the years on one or two of the fashionable novelists that he regularly tears into would probably conclude that he dislikes their work profoundly, and that the root of this dislike lies in what he imagines to be their solipsism, their conviction that the act of writing is somehow more important than the story itself. All this is that much more effective for being conveyed by stealth, in the same way that Squire’s send-up of the first generation of Great War poets (‘O to be in Flanders/Now that April’s here…’) makes its point with a precision that half-a-dozen pages of reasoned exposition would struggle to achieve.
more from DJ Taylor at Literary Review here.