The New Confessions by William Boyd - review by Joseph O'Neill

Joseph O'Neill

Hunkering in the Mulch

The New Confessions


Hamish Hamilton 462pp £11.95 order from our bookshop

Disquietingly, it seems that William Boyd cannot put pen to paper without picking up prizes from breweries and gold stars from reviewers. Even more sinister is his talent to entice many thousands of ordinary members of the public actually to read his work. It is with a beady eye, therefore, that one starts Boyd's new novel, replete with trumpeting dustjacket. It is with bleary eyes that one finishes it, for The New Confessions effortlessly consumes the small hours normally timetabled for sleep.

The unflinching confessions we are privy to are those of John James Todd, moving-picture maker. Reduced to an erroneous footnote in a film encyclopaedia, he seeks to give us the whole hog of himself, the uneconomised truth:

I present myself as I was – vile and contemptible when I behaved in

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