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Any Human Heartby William Boyd
"Last year's reading included many books by authors that were remarkable in terms of craft and technique (Peter Carey), originality and heart (Mark Haddon and Matt Ruff) or sparkling intellect (Clive James). However, William Boyd's Any Human Heart had all of the above qualities and more. Though the format is unassuming, the beguiling and witty voice of narrator Logan Mountstuart creates a tender, rich, and compelling portrait of a fascinating life lived fully."
Boyd has created, using fictional diary entries, a magnificent portrait of a man whose life touches on many of the high and low points of 20th-century history. Real historical figures are deftly woven into a narrative so real it's hard to believe that the diarist, Logan Montstuart, isn't the writer. As you follow along on his life journey, the humor, folly, adventure and pathos will make you sad when this "life" must come to an end.
"I'll happily raise your expectations roof-high for Boyd's magnificent novel. In fact, if comparisons are to be made, I predict that fans of Brideshead Revisited's sparkling combination of wit and pathos will be spectacularly rewarded. The book is glorious." Georgie Lewis, Powells.com (read the entire Powells.com review)
Synopses & Reviews
From the acclaimed author of Armadillo and The Blue Afternoon ("pitch-perfect" New York Times), a new novel that invokes the tumult, events, and iconic faces of our time as it tells the story of Logan Mountstuart ? writer; spy, and man of the world ? through his intimate journals.
Here is the "riotous and disorganized reality" of Mountstuart's 85 years in all their extraordinary, tragic, and humorous aspects. The journals begin with his boyhood in Montevideo, Uruguay; then move to Oxford in the 1920s and the publication of his first book; then on to Paris (where he meets Joyce, Picasso, Hemingway, et al.) and to Spain where he covers the civil wan World War II ? we see him as an agent for Naval Intelligence becoming embroiled in a murder scandal that involves the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. The postwar years bring him to New York as an art dealer in the world of 1950s abstract expressionism, to West Africa, to London (where he has a run-in with the Baader-Meinhof Gang) and, finally, to France where, in his old age, he acquires a measure of hard-won serenity.
An ambitious and richly conceived novel that summons up the heroics and follies of 20th-century life.
"Boyd has named his book Any Human Heart, but Mountstuart is not exactly Everyman: he is far more generous, forgiving, and free than most of us. He is also more amusing, and more amused by life; he makes an extremely attractive central character. Boyd is one of the most skillful and appealing writers at work today, endowed with both a great natural vitality and an increasingly sophisticated humanism." Brooke Allen, The Atlantic Monthly (read the entire Atlantic review)
"A work of astonishing ventriloquistic virtuosity....A brilliant evocation of a past era....One finds oneself almost reading the journals as genuine...which is quite a feat, because Boyd has skillfully mimicked the artless and random qualities of every diary." Caroline Moore, Sunday Telegraph
"A book full of delights....No one is better than William Boyd at drawing the reader into [a] tale from the very first sentence." Erica Wagner, The Times
"Astounding....The most sincere measure of praise one can attach to William Boyd's new novel is that it ranks alongside The New Confessions as one of his great achievements....It also resembles the earlier book in its ambition and spirit, being an account of tumultuous tragicomic life that lasts from one end of the twentieth century to the other. To pull off that trick once is considerable: to do it twice is astounding." Anthony Quinn, The Mail on Sunday
"Compelling....An addictively enjoyable read as well as a testament to the endurance of the human heart." Geordie Grieg, Literary Review
"His humor and candor make him an agreeable companion....Along with the comedy, Boyd's empathy is everywhere evident, whether in describing his hero's soul-crushing loss of a family or the mundane melancholy of passport renewal." Village Voice
The author of "Armadillo, The Blue Afternoon" and "Brazzaville Beach" now pens his most entertaining, sly and compelling novel to date, a novel that evokes the tumult, events and iconic faces of our time, as it tells the story of Logan Mountstuart--writer, lover and man of the world--through his intimate journals.
William Boyds masterful new novel tells, in a series of intimate journals, the story of Logan Mountstuart—writer, lover, art dealer, spy—as he makes his often precarious way through the twentieth century.
About the Author
William Boyd was born in Accra, Ghana, and attended university in Nice, Glasgow and Oxford. He is the author of seven novels and eleven screenplays and has been the recipient of several awards, including the Whitbread Award for Best First Novel, the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction. William Boyd lives with his wife in London and southwest France.
William Boyd’s Armadillo, The Blue Afternoon, The Destiny of Nathalie X, An Ice-Cream War, The New Confessions, On the Yankee Station and Stars and Bars are available in Vintage paperback.
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