Paperback review: How to Disappear - A Memoir for Misfits, By Duncan Fallowell

An acerbic wit and wonderful prose can take you a long way

David Evans
Saturday 10 August 2013 16:17

In this quirky book (winner of the 2012 PEN/Ackerley Prize), Duncan Fallowell describes a series of journeys to remote locations – from an Indian hill town to the Outer Hebrides – and the characters he meets.

I didn't always find Fallowell's eccentric interlocutors – who include Alastair Graham, model for Evelyn Waugh's Sebastian Flyte – as fascinating as he evidently does. Nevertheless, his prose can be wonderful. He writes like a spikier Sebald, alternating between acerbic witticisms and passages of voluptuous description: "In how many tropical and subtropical rooms like this have I slugged from a bottle, or daydreamed … the mind adrift with trains of thought flowing like silken scarves into empty spaces."

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