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Customer Review

on 5 February 2013
An account of the last couple of years of a minor post-war British painter, terminally ill with colon cancer. These are mainly spent remembering past sexual encounters and bickering with his current partner as he screws himself up to commit suicide. The high points of his days are his masturbations. I truly cannot imagine why his editor bothered. We're told of Vaughan's wit and of what good company he was, but almost nothing of this appears in his journal (one joke, really), and of his art we also are shown very little, mostly determinedly genital line drawings of male nudes - previously unpublished, one gathers. Indeed, the volume's basic purpose may well be to celebrate contemporary broad-mindedness, and I don't grudge it that, but two-sixty pages of text do need rather more.
Vaughan knew many interesting art world people, but tells us nothing of them. Apart from sex, his principal interest is suicide but he's disappointingly superficial even there, concerned with techniques rather than philosophies. It's touching, of course, that, having finally taken the pills supplied (lucky man) by his obliging doctor, he fades into unconsciousness in mid-sentence, pen in hand, head on page, but gosh, I can't be the only reader to be much relieved. The moment's been far too long a-coming.
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