Yes, alas, the title is printed RISINGTIDEFALLINGSTAR in unspaced block capitals, as are the chapter headings, for no apparent reason. The other immediately noticeable feature of Philip Hoare’s new book is that its pages are dotted with grainy black-and-white photographs, in the manner pioneered by W G Sebald. As it turns out, it’s a book that is at its best when it’s at its most Sebaldian, when the author removes himself from the scene and follows a watery trail through the lives of the various writers, artists, heroes and cranks who populate its pages.
The book begins with a storm – the first of many. This one is so fierce that, for a day, it prevents even Hoare from stripping off and going for a dip – and this is a man who will swim anywhere, at any time, heedless of danger. Of an