Literary Rivals: Feuds and Antagonisms in the World of Books by Richard Bradford - review by John Sutherland

John Sutherland

Nibs Drawn

Literary Rivals: Feuds and Antagonisms in the World of Books

By

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Richard Bradford’s 2011 biography of Martin Amis got a royal bollocking from reviewers. Mine, I recall, was one of the few favourable notices. The unfavourable many emptied buckets of excrement on the author’s head. David Sexton, in the Evening Standard, for example, wrote:

The problem isn’t that Bradford is hostile. He’s not, he’s servile. The problem is that as a biographer he is so inept. His book is unreadably poor. He can’t write for toffee … What can Martin Amis feel now, to discover that such a dimwit should be fated to be his biographer, forever first in his bibliography? 

Said dimwit’s section on literary biography in this latest effort opens with the rueful remark, ‘Literary biography is a risky undertaking’. For him it certainly has been.

The onslaught that followed his Amis biography seems to have turned his thoughts to the vindictiveness of the literary world. What did Hemingway call

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