Thursday, Dec. 18, 2003

Any Human Heart by William Boyd

This was perhaps the most wise, beautiful, compulsively readable and profoundly funny novel published this year — and hardly anyone noticed. Any Human Heart is the diary of a fictional English writer named Logan Mountstuart, a witty, mildly sinful dilettante who lives through most of the 20th Century, meets lots of famous people (Picasso, Hemingway, the Duke of Windsor), loves, fights, suffers and doesn't get much writing done. Scene by scene, the book prickles with sharp wit and aches with tenderness. Taken as a whole, it is a stunning, moving meditation on art, life, pleasure and the tragic transience of pretty much everything. Seek it out.