Nouvelle Vague

Anthony Quinn

  • The Conclave by Michael Bracewell
    Secker, 339 pp, £8.99, October 1992, ISBN 0 436 20020 1
  • Cock & Bull by Will Self
    Bloomsbury, 310 pp, £9.99, October 1992, ISBN 0 7475 1274 4

Readers making their way through Michael Bracewell’s latest novel may gradually become aware of a small but persistent ache: it comes of the author nudging them in the ribs. There is no chance of being caught napping during the various crises and cruces of The Conclave because Bracewell signposts them all with a diligence and clarity that would not disgrace a sightseeing guide. Here is a novelist who simply cannot resist underlining his point. The sentimental progress of suburban aesthete Martin Knight is weighed down by his creator’s lofty annotations, as when the poor sap first goes window-shopping: ‘This walk was crucial to Martin’s development. It instilled in him, for the first time, the realisation that he would approach the end of the decade aware of three things: money, aesthetics and romance.’

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