Bamboo: Essays and Criticism

Bamboo: Essays and Criticism

4.5 32
by William Boyd
     
 

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"Plant one bamboo shoot-cut bamboo for the rest of your life." William Boyd's prolific, fruitful career is a testament to this old Chinese saying. Boyd penned his first book review in 1978-the proverbial bamboo shoot-and we've been reaping the rewards ever since. Beginning with the Whitbread Award-winning A Good Man in Africa, William Boyd has written

Overview

"Plant one bamboo shoot-cut bamboo for the rest of your life." William Boyd's prolific, fruitful career is a testament to this old Chinese saying. Boyd penned his first book review in 1978-the proverbial bamboo shoot-and we've been reaping the rewards ever since. Beginning with the Whitbread Award-winning A Good Man in Africa, William Boyd has written consistently artful, intelligent fiction and firmly established himself as an international man of letters. He has done nearly thirty years of research and writing for projects as diverse as a novel about an ecologist studying chimpanzees (Brazzaville Beach), an adapted screenplay about the emotional lives of soldiers (The Trench, which he also directed), and a fictional biography of an American painter (Nat Tate). All the while, Boyd has been accruing facts and wisdom-and publishing it in the form of articles, essays, and reviews.
Now available for the first time in the United States, Bamboo gathers together Boyd's writing on literature, art, the movie business, television, and autobiographical reflections on his African childhood, his years at boarding school, and the writing life. From Kurt Vonnegut to the Cannes Film Festival, from Charles Dickens to Catherine Deneuve, from mini-cabs to Cecil Rhodes, this collection is a fascinating and surprisingly revealing companion to the work of one of Britain's leading novelists.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

This noteworthy compendium of British writer Boyd's nonfiction work of the last 25 years is a cornucopia of critical opinion, memoir and social commentary. In addition to their insights on contemporary culture, many of these pieces illuminate aspects of Boyd's novels and short stories. In fact, Boyd (A Good Man in Africa) expresses surprise about how much autobiographical material has "crept into" his work. While some of his subjects will be of less interest to American than British readers, his critical essays on such icons as Woody Allen, Toni Morrison and Kurt Vonnegut, his reflections on the New York scene, American art and a Georgia town called Tallapoosa are refreshing opinions from a foreigner's perspective. He owns up to enjoying the hoax he perpetrated by inventing and assessing the paintings of a fictitious artist called Nat Tate, and there are lively accounts of how the duke and duchess of Windsor became characters in his novel Any Human Heart. Certain preoccupations become evident. No less than seven essays on Evelyn Waugh reflect Boyd's confessed "obsession" with and ambivalence toward the man and his work. At 500-plus pages, this volume is perfect for a bedside table, to be read for sustained excellence of observation and lucidity of prose. (Nov.)

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Kirkus Reviews
Essays and reviews by Whitbread Award-winning Boyd (Restless, 2006, etc.) showcase an itinerant sensibility and imagination. The British author certainly covers a lot of territory in this bulky collection covering 25 years and "seven broad subjects: Life, Literature, Art, Africa, Film, Television and People and Places." Regrettably, he frequently skims the surface of these subjects and appears uninterested in avoiding either cliches or redundancy. But some gems shine from the sludge. Under the heading "Life," we find drearily predictable details about childhood years in Africa and boarding-school ordeals, as well as the first use of an annoying A-to-Z format Boyd unaccountably favors. But we also find a lively account of "The Eleven-Year War" between the author and a borderline-unscrupulous publisher. Moving on to "Literature," Boyd deflates reputations he considers undeserved (Muriel Spark, Richard Yates) and applauds such favorites as William Golding, W.H. Auden and Evelyn Waugh (he's written about Waugh incessantly and, often enough, incisively). The quality ranges from a banal essay on "The Short Story" to a trenchant appreciation of Dickens's underrated comic masterpiece Martin Chuzzlewit. "Art," the most interesting section, offers informative examinations of once-famous British painter Graham Sutherland and French masters Braque and Monet, as well as a nifty report on the farcical "Nat Tate" hoax perpetrated by Boyd himself. "Film and Television" gathers ho-hum celebrity profiles and reviews, yet Boyd sparkles in a knowledgeable assessment of the biopic Basquiat, whose eponymous subject seems to him "a sort of latter-day, low grade, Manhattan Faust."The essays on art and artistsare distinctive and interesting; everything else is pretty generic.
From the Publisher

“There's hardly a writer around whose work offers more pleasure and satisfaction.” —Washington Post

“A daring craftsman, a writer who allows the scope of his work to expand to the point of bursting.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review

“[Boyd has] an exceptional ability to tell a really compelling story, in dense imaginative detail, about characters with complex, and convincing, emotional lives.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review

“A gutsy writer…William Boyd is good company to keep.” —Time

“One of the most skillful and appealing writers at work today.” —Atlantic Monthly

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781608196647
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
01/15/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
528
File size:
3 MB

Meet the Author

William Boyd was given the Costa Novel Award for his most recent novel, Restless. He is also the author of eight other novels, three collections of short stories, and thirteen screenplays that have been made into films. He has received several other awards, including the Whitbread Award for Best First Novel, the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction. William Boyd lives with his wife in London and southwest France.
William Boyd is the author of fourteen novels including A Good Man in Africa, winner of the Whitbread Award and the Somerset Maugham Award; An Ice-Cream War, winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Any Human Heart, winner of the Prix Jean Monnet and adapted into a BAFTA-winning Channel 4 drama; Restless, winner of the Costa Novel of the Year, the Yorkshire PostNovel of the Year and a Richard & Judy selection; the Sunday Times bestseller, Waiting for Sunrise and, most recently, Solo, a James Bond novel. William Boyd lives in London and France

williamboyd.co.uk

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