Dennis Sewell

The Anecdotal Hero

Better Than Working


Secker & Warburg 294pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

THE OPENING’S A cracker. ‘The Duke, as usual by tea-time, was drunk. Not very drunk, not yet arrogant and clumsy, but sufficiently soft in the head to have driven his Cadillac convertible along the fairways of Nassau’s premier golf club. This was before electric buggies. Evidently, he was not in the mood for long walks between shots; and, after all, he was the Governor.’ An echo surely of, ‘It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me.’ And in the final chapter Patrick Skene Catling confirms that Earthly Powers was indeed by his side as he polished this memoir. Duty done. There’s no faulting this man’s manners. An unnecessary fastidiousness, though, for there is no copyright on the idea of the shock opener, and Skene Catling has done it before, beginning one novel with the come-on: ‘Orgasm?’

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'One of the best aspects of Kaufmann’s book is its optimism' Here's @BurlM11's review of @epkaufm's Whiteshift. ,
    • Whom did Picasso label a 'bristly pig'? Read Rosalind P Blakesley's review of The Collector by Natalya Semenova to… ,
    • Alexandra Gajda on Anna Beer's new biography, Patriot or Traitor: The Life and Death of Sir Walter Ralegh ,
    • Mark Lawson reviews @jonathancoe's Middle England - The Rotters' Club for our Brexit age. ,
    • 'Behind every book that is published lies ... a haunted landscape, populated by the ghosts of things written and ex… ,
    • 'We once more live in a great age of dragon invention' Here's Tom Shippey on Martin Arnold's The Dragon ,
    • RT : Man at the q&a part of the book panel: Don't say it Don't say it Don't say it Don't say it Don't say it Don't s… ,