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Fathers and Sons


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About the Author

ALEXANDER WAUGH is the grandson of Evelyn Waugh and the son of columnist Auberon Waugh and novelist Teresa Waugh. He has been the opera critic at the Mail on Sunday and the Evening Standard and has written several books on music, as well as Time (1999) and God (2002). He is at work on a book about the Wittgenstein family centering on Paul, the world-famous one-handed pianist. He lives in Somerset, England, with his wife, two daughters and one son, Bron.


Evelyn Waugh once wrote, "I have exhausted my capacity for finding objects of love. How does one exist without them?" Love, or the lack of it, is what this book by Alexander Waugh (Time), Evelyn's grandson, is all about. It is also about fathers and sons and four generations of Waugh writers. Arthur was a publisher and a writer. His sons, Alec and Evelyn, were both writers, with Evelyn the more critically acclaimed. Evelyn sired Auberon, a writer/journalist, who in turn begat Alexander, the current Waugh chronicler. Collectively, the Waughs have written 180 books, though the real emphasis here is not on their books but on their father-son relationships. Arthur had an intense, almost spiritual relationship with his son Alec, often to the exclusion of Evelyn. Both sons married and fathered children-three for Alec and seven for Evelyn. But neither was an ideal father, perhaps symptomatic of the atypical love relationship each had with Arthur. Certainly, the father-son connection is a frequent theme in their books, particularly Evelyn's. If this book-revealing, comic, serious-is any indication of Alexander's ability with the written word, then he, too, is a real writer. Recommend for public and academic libraries.-Robert Kelly, Fort Wayne Community Schs., Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

The scion of an illustrious--and fabulously eccentric--English literary dynasty referees four generations of father-son antagonisms in this scintillating family memoir. Waugh (God) focuses on the fraught relationship between his great-grandfather, prominent critic and publisher Arthur Waugh, and Arthur's son, the famous novelist Evelyn. Arthur was a hopeless Victorian who doted on his elder son Alec and warmly sentimentalized their family life and boarding school traditions, Evelyn was the disaffected black sheep who wallowed in drink, bisexual dissipation and modern cynicism. In contrast to Arthur's paternal overinvolvement, Evelyn tried hard to avoid his own children's company or, when contact was inescapable, to heap exquisitely refined derision on their heads. But while he found his seven-year-old son, Auberon, the author's father, to be "clumsy and disheveled, sly, without intellectual, aesthetic or spiritual interest," he managed to impart a legacy that emerged in Auberon's career as a notoriously acerbic columnist. Waugh often lets the diaries and letters of his compulsively self-documenting subjects carry the story, sprinkling in smarmy family anecdotes and his own color commentary. If this tome were merely an excuse to reprint some of Evelyn's hilarious jottings, it would be well worth the price, but it's also an absorbing study of how writers process their most painfully formative experiences. (May 29) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

"A very great book."--Robert Harris

Praise for the British edition of Fathers and Sons "A wonderful critical-loving job...a stupendous story." --V.S. Naipaul "Literary skill really does seem to be hereditary....Altogether an extraordinary story, admirably told, which leaves you thinking at the end what a remarkable family the Waughs are." --Geoffrey Wheatcroft, Daily Mail "A remarkable work of family history, exceptional for its honesty, inventiveness, humour and for the beguiling individuality of its author's voice...Alexander Waugh proves himself outrageously graceful and accomplished with a talent that needs no help at all from his illustrious forebearers." -Selina Hastings, Literary Review "All fathers and sons should read it." -Humphrey Carpenter, Sunday Times "Told with humour and panache, with considerable inside knowledge and a perception that makes this remarkable chronicle a delight to read." -Spectator "Waugh relights the family's literary torch...Huge fun." -Tatler "Written with wit, great shrewdness and without a trace of sentimentality." -William Boyd, Guardian

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