Any Human Heart Paperback – 11 Nov 2010
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Logan Gonzago Mountstuart, writer, was born in 1906, and died of a heart attack on October 5, 1991, aged 85. Any Human Heart is his disjointed autobiography, a massive tome chronicling "my personal rollercoaster"--or rather, "not so much a rollercoaster", but a yo-yo, "a jerking spinning toy in the hands of a maladroit child". From his early childhood in Montevideo, son of an English corned beef executive and his Uraguayan secretary, through his years at a Norfolk public school and Oxford, Mountstuart traces his haphazard development as a writer. Early and easy success is succeeded by a long half-century of mediocrity, disappointments and setbacks, both personal and professional, leading him to multiple failed marriages, internment, alcoholism and abject poverty.
Mountstuart's sorry tale is also the story of a British way of life in inexorable decline, as his journey takes in the Bloomsbury set, the General Strike, the Spanish Civil War, 1930s Americans in Paris, wartime espionage, New York avant garde art, even the Baader-Meinhof gang--all with a stellar supporting cast. The most sustained and best moment comes mid-book, as Mountstuart gets caught up in one of Britain's murkier wartime secrets, in the company of the here truly despicable Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Elsewhere author William Boyd occasionally misplaces his tongue too obviously in his cheek--the Wall Street Crash is trailed with truly crashing inelegance--but overall Any Human Heart is a witty, inventive and ultimately moving novel. Boyd succeeds in conjuring not only a compelling 20th century but also, in the hapless Logan Mountstuart, an anti-hero who achieves something approaching passive greatness. --Alan Stewart --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Its pleasures are endless. . . . Supremely entertaining. "The Washington Post Book World ""Boyd has an exceptional ability to tell a really compelling story, in dense imaginative detail, about characters with complex, and convincing, emotional lives. . . . I've already read this book twice and probably shall again. Of how many novels can that be said?"--Peter Green, "Los Angeles Times Book Review " The sort of rare novel that redeems the essential purpose of prose fiction. . . . A high celebration of the plain fun of a life lived with relentless appetite and reasonable grace. "The Baltimore Sun " Entertaining and moving. . . . Can be read with sheer pleasure not only for the delicacy of its emotions but for the truth of its perceptions. Like saying goodbye to a good friend, it s hard to see this brilliant novel come to an end. "The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette " A wonderful character and a wonderful book. . . . Boyd persuades you that you ve read the confidences of a real, flawed, marginal character battered by every malice and caprice of 20th-century history. "The Seattle Times " A pleasure front to back, and a fond tip of the bowler hat to the upper-class fiction spawned by a long-gone world. "Newsweek " One of the most skillful and appealing writers at work today. "The Atlantic Monthly " A novel of deep humanity and insight. "Newsday""See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
I certainly didn't want "Any Human Heart" to end. In fact I was trembling when I read Logan Mountstuart's final diary entry. Now I am mourning the passing of a man I could not possibly have known, existing as he did only in the minds of the author and myself in the two days I have done little else but read this book.
On the face of it, "Any Human Heart" has little to recommend it. It has no plot, a character with more flaws than qualities and seemingly no message to impart.
But Boyd's book is about a life. A life that is very different from yours or mine, in as much as mine is different from yours and ours are different from anyone else's. All our lives are plotless and for the most part very ordinary. Most of us have qualities that pale into insignificance when measured alongside our faults. Logan Mountstuart enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame which - despite Andy Warhol's assertions to the contrary - we don't all experience. "Every dog has his day" is probably closer to the mark.
But in reading "Any Human Heart" we get a rare insight into someone else's life - Logan Mountstuart's - from the minutiae of what he ate for lunch to the experiences that rocked his world and changed him for better or worse. Remarkably, it didn't matter to me that Logan Mountstuart was an entirely fictional character. I suppose this is because all our lives are fictions to those who don't live them.
The title confused me at first, but now I understand. We all have our stories to tell and even the most superficially "ordinary" life is extraordinary to someone else.Read more ›
Rereading AHH has rekindled my love for literature after the comparative dryness of Greene, McEwan, Murakami. I really hope that if you read this review, you'll make a respectable attempt to read this book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Brilliant story. Kept me reading all the way through and I recommended it to many people since.Published 1 day ago by Amazon Customer
This is the diary of Logan Mountstuart who lives in every decade in the twentieth century. It covers his life from his school days to his death and the author uses his life to... Read morePublished 14 days ago by Anne
I really enjoyed this but found it a little slow in parts. I loved finding out about the life of Logan and found much of it wonderful and heartbreaking but I struggle with books... Read morePublished 20 days ago by K
Tedious is one word for this book. Dull is another one. If you want to read a diary, Adrian Mole's is probably more entertaining and enlightening. Avoid. Life's too short.Published 29 days ago by James Lizard
It is a very well written book but I fail to connect with the main character.Published 1 month ago by britt shepperson
I loved this book. Simply put, it is the life story of an interesting man. Sometimes I liked him and sometimes I didn't. Great readPublished 1 month ago by jean heseltine
Very much enjoyed both the story and the style of writing. Although I could not identify with Logan Mountstuart (who could! Read morePublished 1 month ago by try_something_new
DULL , BORING , MAIN CHARACTER IS SHALLOW AND SMUG. NOT AT ALL AMUSING .Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer