Today the clean up operation begins in earnest in shattered Hemel Hempstead after yesterday's mammoth Milan Kundera explosion. The unbearably light novelist burst into flames unexpectedly in the early hours of Sunday morning and is now floating in a huge pall over much of Southern England, bringing poor air and intermittent showers of highly dense prose to much of the surrounding area.
Kundera: "so light, you won't believe he's not butter..."
It is not yet known what caused the incident, although detectives investigating the blast have yet to rule out an attempted guerrila attack by the likes of Gunther Grass, Tibor Fischer, Monica Ali or other such internationally feared word terrorists. Police have been put on high alert and have been instructed to isolate any unfeasibly light or unaccountably bloated literary figures in the event that they may be about to blow. As we go to press, Christopher Hitchens remains unaccounted for, although a nationwide search has commenced amid fears that the lard-arsed journalist and commentator may still be holed up somewhere in the UK, possibly in a safe house, primed and ready to detonate all over a densely populated urban centre.
Monica Ali: "gratuitous terror suspect and unfeasibly handsome novelist"
In this fearful climate, publishing houses have been bracing themselves for a run on the printed word as a series of high-profile authors go up in flames. Statements were today issued by both major imprints and retailers urging the public to remain calm and not make a bad situation worse by being frightened into panic buying. Sales of books by the late Saul Bellow, who exploded over Michigan earlier in the year, rocketed after his death and it is feared that the recently vaporized Czech writer's works - which include Immortality, Life is Elsewhere and The Unbearable Lightness of Being - will be snapped up in similar fashion, leading to a global quality book-dearth and a huge surge in the price of alkaline paper and bookmarks. Universities fear an upsurge in student angst if the erudite Czech's work should become unavailable and some are predicting a whole generation could grow up not asking themselves "muss es sei?"
"Lard-arsed mid-atlantic turn-coat popinjay - Muss es sie, George?"
But for now the greatest concern facing the accident and emergency services is the clean-up operation. Anyone old enough to remember the great Truman Capote slick of the 1970s will be aware just how painstaking and thankless a task it is removing caked-on literary sludge from the wings of sea birds and ocean-dwelling life forms. Half-suffocated, sea-borne emeritus professors were still being dredged up along the New England coastline for several months after the enigmatic short story writer and essayist ran aground on rocks off New Hampshire, spewing a toxic compound of gay metaphors and pithy encapsulations into the cold waters of the North Atlantic. Fortunately, the Kundera incident happened first thing in the morning, on dry land, in a part of Britain that no one particularly cares about, so casualties have been mercifully low with only a handful of people injured by the burning debris of stray chapter headings and singed translator's notes and prefaces. But Julian Barnes, the head of the clean-up operation, was in no doubt that this had been a lucky escape. "Christ only knows what kinds of shit we'd be dealing with if John Mortimer had gone off....", said the eminent man of belle lettres and former Carole Vorderman's Sudoku challenge champion.
Artist's impression of a pre-explosion Jackie Collins - the thinking man's Julie Burchill lights up the Hertfordshire night sky....
There were, however, widespread fears for the safety and viability of several other older and more delapidated novelists. Beryl Bainbridge, Ellis Peters and Barbara Taylor Bradford have all been impounded and wrapped in foam - in Bainbridge's case, for her own safety. Late last night, a cordon was put round Jackie Collins after reports of a horrificly pungent odour provoked fears that she too had sprung a potentially catastrophic leak. Environmentalists and literary agents were bracing themselves for the nightmare scenario of a huge cack of trans-atlantic soft-core porn and S & F bilge-masquerading-as-LA-glamour that could be showered all over the home counties at any moment. In a statement read out from her bunker in Beverley Hills, the novelist's sister Joan Collins said that neither Collins was available for comment but did strongly urge the assembled press to do all they could to save the pound.
Love on y'all,