‘We’ve dug three graves for you, Mr Burgess: one for your body, one for your books, and one for your ego.’ This is a line from a piece of hate mail received by Anthony Burgess, which he apparently found very funny. In his debut novel, Three Graves, Sean Gregory takes up the challenge of reckoning with Burgess’s bombastic persona, which was almost as much of a construction as any of his characters, as well as his messy life offstage, where he was known simply as John Wilson (Anthony and Burgess were his middle names).
Burgess claimed it the right of every Shakespeare-lover to ‘paint his own portrait of the man’. Gregory takes much the same approach when it comes to Burgess. His is a novel of metafictional strands and language games, grounded in a very human portrayal of the son of music