WILLIAM BOYD has received world-wide acclaim for his novels. They are: A Good Man in Africa (1981, winner of the Whitbread Award and the Somerset Maugham Prize) AnIce Cream War (1982, shortlisted for the 1982 Booker Prize and winner of theJohn Llewellyn Rhys Prize), Stars and Bars (1984), The New Confessions (1987),Brazzaville Beach (1990, winner of the McVitie Prize and the James Tait BlackMemorial Prize) The Blue Afternoon (1993, winner of the 1993 Sunday ExpressBook of the Year Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Award for Fiction, 1995),Armadillo (1998) and Any Human Heart (2002, winner of the Prix Jean Monnet). He is also the author of a collection of screenplays and a memoir of hisschooldays, School Ties (1985); and three collections of short stories: On theYankee Station (1981), The Destiny of Nathalie 'X' (1995) and Fascination(2004). He also wrote the speculative memoir of his schooldays, School Ties(1985); three collections of short stories: On the Yankee Station (1981), TheDestiny of Nathalie 'X' (1995) and Fascination (2004). He also wrote thespeculative memoir Nat Tate: an American Artist -- the publication of which, inthe spring of 1998, caused something of a stir on both sides of the Atlantic. Acollection of his non-fiction writings, 1978-2004, entitled Bamboo, waspublished in October 2005. His ninth novel, Restless, was published inSeptember 2006 (Costa Book Award, Novel of the Year 2006) and his tenth novel,Ordinary Thunderstorms, published September 2009. His most recent novel is Waiting For Sunrise which published in February 2011.
John James Todd, the tenacious, reflective, wise, ambitious, romantic filmmaker and adventurer who is the narrator of Boyd's (A Good Man in Africa, An Ice Cream War) fourth novel, is not a real personexcept that Boyd delightfully makes him so in this ribald ``autobiography'' based in spirit on Rousseau's Confessions, that posthumously published ``enterprise which has no precedent, and which, once complete will have no imitator.'' Looking back on his life from a villa on the French Riviera in 1972, the Scottish Todd (born in 1899 to a mother wholike Rousseau'sdied at the moment of his birth) recalls events from his Edinburgh childhood and through the 1950s. He is introduced to the Confessions while a prisoner of war during WW I (the guard who procures it for him is a German actor and they remain friends) and its themes continue to haunt him. Todd is variously a doorman in Berlin in the '20s; a celebrated filmmaker in that city; a failed filmmaker of westerns once silent movies disappear; a foreign correspondent for several of the most unimportant newspapers west of the Mississippi during WW II; and a blacklisted filmmaker in Hollywood in the '50s. He fathers four children but is not a family man. Todd's greatest achievement is a technically adventurous, five-hour version of the first part of Rousseau's autobiography, starring Karl-Heinz Kornfield, his former guard. As Todd describes his work on this silent film, we become convinced that we have seen it; his other films are similarly vivid. So too are Todd himself and his lovers, friends and enemies. (Like Rousseau, he is unsparing in exposing his own flaws, and sometimes his callousness is chilling.) Todd's eloquent philosophic asides on how chance and circumstance, rather than simply will, shape an individual's destiny, reflect the masterful way Boyd allows Todd to tell his magnificent story. For while he gives his imagination free reign, the author exerts an impressive control, shaping the anecdotes for deeper understanding of Todd's character. $75,000 ad/promo; BOMC featured alternate; author tour. (May)
$18.95. f Early in life John James Todd, forgotten hero of the cinematic avant-garde of the 1920s and 1930s, is advised, ``Make your own rut. It's the only way.'' Throughout a long and tempestuous life, Todd remains true to his artistic vision, from his first movies of the Great War to the last B-westerns 30 years later. The capstone of his career is a five-hour, three-screen version of Rousseau's Confessions ; it appears just as talkies arrive on the scene, eliminating the audience for his one undiluted masterpiece. Vain and impulsive, undisciplined in all save his work, Todd is spiritual heir to his beloved JeanJacques. Better than either the prize-winning A Good Man in Africa ( LJ 5/1/82) or An Ice Cream War ( LJ 4/15/83), this novel shows Boyd's considerable ability as storyteller and the rich comic sense that infuses his work with life. David Keymer, SUNY Coll. of Technology, Utica
"An entertaining and darkly comic novel, a novel given weight and ballast by the pressure of recent history." --The New York Times "Here is the rarest of books, the sort you want to read again--even before you've finished it the first time. . . . Boyd gives us a magnificent experience." --People "Boyd has created an important and complex character in a vividly evoked series of settings. . . . He has written a subtle and provocative history of our time." --Los Angeles Times Book Review "Entertaining and intellectually engaging." --Time -An entertaining and darkly comic novel, a novel given weight and ballast by the pressure of recent history.- --The New York Times -Here is the rarest of books, the sort you want to read again--even before you've finished it the first time. . . . Boyd gives us a magnificent experience.- --People -Boyd has created an important and complex character in a vividly evoked series of settings. . . . He has written a subtle and provocative history of our time.- --Los Angeles Times Book Review -Entertaining and intellectually engaging.- --Time