The spiteful biography is hardly an unusual thing, but this Anthony Burgess bio seems like an extreme member of the genre:
Some of his observations about Burgess's touchiness and verbosity are spot on. But the longer the book proceeds, the more preposterous the claims become: Burgess "simply wasn't very bright", "he hated being a human being". At least twice Lewis wishes Burgess dead, as if his actual death, in 1993 (described as him "conking out"), wasn't enough. Elsewhere, having rubbished his subject's powers of invention, he tries to impress us with his own, transcribing an imaginary dialogue from the 1960s that's unfunny and name-dropping in the extreme.
As to the footnotes, they're largely an excuse to pick off enemies - not only Burgess and his widow Liana ("that frightful woman... an obscure Italian translator"), but Stanley Kubrick ("piss-poor"), Clive James ("a professional nincompoop... a prat"), Martin Amis ("a writer with nothing to say"), and many more.
Currently listening to: Skinny Puppy - Far Too Frail.Posted by Bill Stilwell at November 12, 2002 09:28 PM