When an author accidentally uses a line from a famous dirty joke in the middle of a rather thoughtful passage, one pauses. One snorts. One is thrown. The book? Children of Men again. The line? Something along the lines of "the sky was a deep azure blue." So don't use that. I should be on to Going After Cacciato by Tim O'Brien by the middle of my Saturday Morning Festival of Housecleaning.
Now, I cannot criticize P.D. James for not knowing one of the better dirty jokes. Or even any dirty jokes. This was an unfortunate coincidence. But it can be fun to catch a brilliant writer in a brain-fade of their own devising. I am reading the fabulous, wonderfully written, reading-slowly-because-it-is-so-good, go buy it immediately The World as I Found It by Bruce Duffy. A first novel that will blow your socks off for the voice alone, even if you don't find the subject matter immediately arresting. I shall be buying everything of his and studying his methods as best my tiny brain allows.
I have found the single flaw in this masterpiece, the dropped knot in this Persian carpet. Brace yourselves:
Increasingly now, the scientist had to taste, nay, to squeeze the bosomy grapes of mystery.
I shall assume this bit was written on a dark and stormy night.