Anthony Quinn

Anthony Quinn lives in Islington and writes for the Independent.

Nouvelle Vague

Anthony Quinn, 7 January 1993

Readers making their way through Michael Bracewell’s latest novel may gradually become aware of a small but persistent ache: it comes of the author nudging them in the ribs. There is no chance of being caught napping during the various crises and cruces of The Conclave because Bracewell signposts them all with a diligence and clarity that would not disgrace a sightseeing guide. Here is a novelist who simply cannot resist underlining his point. The sentimental progress of suburban aesthete Martin Knight is weighed down by his creator’s lofty annotations, as when the poor sap first goes window-shopping: ‘This walk was crucial to Martin’s development. It instilled in him, for the first time, the realisation that he would approach the end of the decade aware of three things: money, aesthetics and romance.’


Anthony Quinn, 29 August 1991

The heroine of Lucy Ellmann’s new novel is one of an increasingly rare breed in modern fiction – a virgin. Isabel is a thirty-something art history student, prim, gauche, improbably starry-eyed, impossibly self-obsessed, a junior version of the Anita Brookner wallflower (i.e. not yet prepared to consign herself to the sad margins of singlehood). But whereas the high-minded Brookner woman is given to maundering over Balzac or Flaubert, Isabel derives her vicarious thrills from the soft-centred romantic novels of one Babs Cartwheel (373 of them, and counting). According to Ms Cartwheel, ‘when the right man appears, he will appreciate finding your virginity intact,’ which in Isabel’s case sounds like making a virtue out of a necessity. Her addiction to this junk affects not just her social demeanour but her narrative mode, a matter of breathless one-sentence paragraphs and stupefying sentiment – ‘my destiny was to love, but to love always tragically.’’

Rites of Passage

Anthony Quinn, 27 June 1991

Richard Rayner’s new novel, his second, opens with a nervous exhibition of rhetorical trills and twitches, buttonholing the reader like a stand-up comic on his first night:

Audrey’s Eye

Anthony Quinn, 21 February 1991

‘Write about what you know’ is one of the routine prescriptions handed out to aspirant novelists. The advice will doubtless have an odd ring to anyone who has lived in a province. After all, what could you know that might conceivably interest them? There is a tendency among people who have never lived in a metropolis to suspect that the ‘real’ world exists somewhere far beyond their own pinched horizons. Faced with what they assume to be the thumping banality of their own experience, they are tempted to write about what they’d like to know.

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