Saturday, 25 September 2010

Brother of the More Famous Jack

by Barbara Trapido

Years ago, and quite by accident, I read the first paragraph of Juggling by Barbara Trapido. I could not put it down.

The same number of years later, and now quite deliberately, I picked Trapido’s first novel in the library. To the same effect, I have to add, except that I liked it even more than Juggling. Starting with the title, and then its first chapter, and so on and so forth, it is brilliant throughout, till the very end. Which is a happy one, so really, there is no single reason not to read this book.

The art of dressing myself, without guilt, in fantastic clothes came back to me; of hanging jewels in my ears and of blowing a week’s earnings upon sea green crêpe without being answerable to Roger Goldman for the excess. On the rebound from Roger’s puritanism, I had a lot of men. I do not much like voyeurism among other people’s heavy breathing, so I will only tell you that with not one of them did I descend to the floor of a bike shed and that nearly all of them were married. Unmarried men in southern Europe have mothers. Strong, frank matriarchs, who nose one out as a subversive within minutes, who make perfectly clear the reality that their sons will not make injudicious, long-term attachments with bookish, unconventional, Protestant women: women who have no reputable dowry and insufficient deference for the art of home-made fettuccine.
Brother of the More Famous Jack

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