Brief Lives, By Paul Johnson
The good, the bad, and the plain bonkers
Sunday 04 September 2011
This collection of pen portraits of 200 or so of the luminaries whom the journalist Paul Johnson has met must be one of the most eccentric books ever published.
Apart from political oddities (in what world is Picasso "the most evil man" but Pinochet "the single most misjudged figure of the 20th century"?), there is the sheer bonkers-ness of some of the entries. Noel Annan was "clever" but also liked to pretend he was a commander of a German submarine at the public baths. The Spanish Civil War is "a period of the greatest possible difficulty" for poor Franco, and Mary McCarthy was "nearly always wrong". Of W H Auden, Johnson remembers nothing at all. A scream from start to finish.
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Crystal meth addict 'gouged out his eyes and ate them' while high on drug, Australian MP claims
- 2 As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
- 3 The ten most unequal developed countries in the world
- 4 Saudi Arabia 'seeking to head United Nations Human Rights Council'
- 5 Toddler throws a tantrum at the White House – in front of Barack Obama
Cannes Film Festival rejects women from red-carpet screening of pro-LGBT romance 'Carol' for not wearing high heels
Game of Thrones rape scene criticised as 'disgusting' by US senator Claire McCaskill who says she's 'done' with show
Beyonce angers fans by pouring expensive champagne into hot tub in Nicki Minaj 'Feeling Myself' video
Mad Men, TV review: Perfect harmony? Not quite, but an enlightening finale for Don Draper
Theresa May accused of seeking to introduce state censorship of the media by Cabinet colleague Sajid Javid
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
Report finds that Britain's wages are the most unequal in Europe
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Gay marriage 'Bert and Ernie' cake bakery found guilty of discrimination in Northern Ireland