Ugly Stuff

Ian Hamilton

  • Beyond the Pale by William Trevor
    Bodley Head, 256 pp, £6.95, October 1981, ISBN 0 370 30442 X
  • The Black House by Patricia Highsmith
    Heinemann, 258 pp, £6.95, September 1981, ISBN 0 434 33518 5
  • Lantern Lecture by Adam Mars-Jones
    Faber, 197 pp, £6.95, September 1981, ISBN 0 571 11813 5

William Trevor is bewitched by childhoods and by second childhoods: the ‘grown-up’ bit in between is for him a dullish swamp of lies, commerce, lust and things like that. For Trevor, the only way to recapture childish purity is somehow to hang on until you’re hugely old, or to have a grown-up life that is so deeply marked by memories of childhood that all the other grown-ups think you’re odd. These memories can be both good and bad: lyric moments of sweet bliss or some too early and therefore traumatising glimpse of the ugly stuff that lies ahead.

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