20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
a Real pleasure, 26 Nov. 2005
For longtime admirers of Anthony Burgess, as well as for members of his growing posthumous readership (like me), this book is an event. A dozen years since the death of one of the dozen best British novelists of the last half-century, Anthony Burgess finally has the biography he deserves. As scrupulous and as scholarly as the pseudo-biography of Roger Lewis of 2002 was distinctly un-so, this book captures all the personal and professional contrasts and contradictions of a mercurial, myriad-minded novelist-composer-poet-critic-playwright-translator whose lapsed Catholicism and lust for language were the twin goads that drove a stunning prolificness. For me his great verbal fluency—in books like the epic Earthly Powers and the picaresque verse-novel Byrne—match anything done since by Martin Amis, Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo, David Foster Wallace, Richard Powers, and all the other prizewinning wunderkinds and polymaths of the present day. An unworthy critical reaction to Burgess’s unapologetic creative overplus seems to own the review pages in the UK right now, but Burgess is bigger than the land of his birth, and an embarrassing about-face may shortly follow, once the English rediscover what Burgess’s international readers already recognize—a comprehensive, insightful literary intelligence that any nation would be proud to lay claim to. From the rough streets of Manchester to the rowdiness of the Far East to the drunken roustabout of Burgess’s first marriage to the stylistic refinements of his best work, Andrew Biswell paints a careful, colourful portrait of a formidable artist and a fallible man. A Real pleasure, not to be missed.