Nina Bawden

  • At the Jazz Band Ball: A Memory of the 1950s by Philip Oakes
    Deutsch, 251 pp, £8.95, November 1983, ISBN 0 233 97591 8

No one, certainly not a novelist like Philip Oakes, can resist the temptation to rearrange memories, impose some sort of order or pattern. In the same way that a novelist may write about his own life, disguising it as a tale about imaginary people, autobiography may be a sly form of fiction. And it follows that the success of an autobiography depends on whether or not he makes a good story of it. Philip Oakes has succeeded superbly. His trilogy, From Middle England, Dwellers All in Time and Space and At the Jazz Band Ball, is a very funny, lively and often enthralling record of a childhood, adolescence and young manhood, convincing in its detail, and set down with verve and style.

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