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More depressing as it progresses.
on 14 April 2017
I ploughed my way through it. One gold star for me. This book was a gift from a lady friend who liked Boyd but couldn't get into this one. I can quite understand why as it's full of masculine testosterone which can be off-putting for some readers.I did not find it at all funny or enjoyable as some of the critics did and wondered whether they had actually read the book or simply scanned through the blurb.
I am not sure I like the artifice of writing a novel based, apparently, on someone's journals, edited and published after their death.
It is a trip through the 20th century through the doings of one Logan Mountstuart born in Uruguay in the early part of the century, his schooldays in England and Oxford and his subsequent life, travels and trevails. Mountstuart is amoral, seducing his friends' wives and girlfriends without qualm, embarking on extramarital affairs and visiting prostitutes whenever the whim takes him. He is not a likeable character yet fills the book with his every thought and action. In fact there are few likeable characters anywhere near this book.
Boyd has given Mountstuart the profession of author which is a vehicle to introduce some of the most famous names in literature into his circle, including Hemingway. This gives him the freedom to travel Europe. He then contrives to move him to New York and the art world with the purpose of mentioning such figures as Paul Klee. Names are dropped like confetti at a wedding throughout and it becomes obvious that the improbable and implausible situations in which Mountstuart finds himself embroiled are worked entirely to include such famous names.
The research is exemplary and the writing good. It is no page turner but has a cadence to it that carries the reader along at an even pace.
I suspect that this would be classed as literary fiction as its appeal is limited. One wonders at the motive of authors writing such material. Is it to entertain? Is it to win prizes and the approval of the literati? Is it a morality tale where being born to a life of privilege does not make you happy? Is it a mea culpa, as one also suspects a certain amount of personal experience has appeared between the covers?
I was left with a feeling of depression at the end. Maybe that was because, as I am embarked on my seventh decade, I could visualise a certain inevitability in the ageing process as graphically outlined in the story. I hope I would not die alone and unmourned as did Mountstuart but who can foretell the future?