Saturday, October 29, 2016

Any Human Heart, the Intimate Journals of Logan Mountstuart by William Boyd

Any Human HeartAny Human Heart by William  Boyd
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This fictional journal of the writer Logan Mountstuart kept me enthralled for the bulk of this bulky novel. I was sorry to see it end. I miss it. When starting with his childhood, I twitched and sighed hoping that we would soon be into Oxford days, but after twenty or thirty pages, I was hooked. Not a fan of roman a clef or historical fiction, here I was enjoying both, in a journal format, particularly the protagonist's encounters with real life figures like Hemingway or Joyce or Picasso or the Duke of Windsor. Settings were seductive, Oxford, Paris , Zurich, Bermuda or New York City. The spy tasks during WWII, the haunting prisoner of war years and aftermath, the art gallery milieu, the publishing business fascinated me. There is a Meiner Badhof interaction toward the end, oddly involving our hero, which didn't seem to fit, but I never faltered in my bulldozing through the book, picking it up at even a hint of insomnia. My favorite quote from his Southern France retirement oasis of which he writes:

The pleasures of my life here are simple – simple, inexpensive and democratic. A warm hill of Marmande tomatoes on a roadside vendor’s stall. A cold beer on a pavement table of the Caf√© de France – Marie Therese inside making me a sandwich au Camembert. Munching the knob off a fresh baguette as I wander back from Saint-Sabine. The farinaceous smell of the white dust raised by a breeze from the driveway. A cuckoo sounding in the perfectly silent woods beyond the meadow. The huge grey, cerise, pink, orange and washed-out blue of a sunset seen from my rear terrace. The drilling of the cicadas at noon – the soft dialling tone of the crickets as dusk slowly gathers. A good book, a hammock and a cold, beaded bottle of blanc sec. A rough red wine and steak frites. The cool, dark, shuttered silence of my bedroom – and as I go to sleep the prospect that all this will be available to me again, unchanged, tomorrow. (p.479)

I need only the hammock and cold, beaded bottle of blanc sec to supplement this good book.


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