Fathers by Sam Miller; Fathers and Sons by Howard Cunnell; The Old King in His Exile by Arno Geiger (Translated by Stefan Tobler) - review by William Palmer

William Palmer

Dad Land

Fathers

By

Jonathan Cape 250pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

Fathers and Sons

By

Picador 212pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

The Old King in His Exile

By

And Other Stories 192pp £9.99 order from our bookshop
 

In these three books the authors turn their attention to the subject of fathers. In Sam Miller’s case, the focus is on two men: Karl Miller, one of the finest of literary editors, who died in 2014, and his closest friend, Tony White, a much-loved and charismatic man who never quite got to grips with what he wanted to do. Karl was literary editor of both The Spectator and the New Statesman, the first editor of the London Review of Books and, perhaps most importantly, editor of The Listener, which he turned into the most radical and interesting of the weeklies of the 1960s and 1970s (the BBC, its publisher, eventually shut it down so that the corporation could better afford the likes of Jimmy Savile). His parents came from the working classes; his mother was a communist (hence the name Karl) and his father was a would-be painter who died, possibly by his own hand, in 1962. Karl went from the Royal High in Edinburgh into national service and then on to Cambridge, where he befriended White.

White was a remarkably handsome man who had many lovers, both male and female. He became a moderately successful actor, working for a time at the Old Vic, but he quickly began to despise acting and his fellow actors. He then wanted to become a writer. To support himself

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