The New Zealand novelist Maurice Shadbolt recently published what he described as a ‘memoir’, explaining that this form differed from autobiography in that it claimed only to recount events as the author remembered them, making no promise of accuracy. Since Shadbolt had announced publicly, a year or so before, that he was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, the excuse for inaccuracy and invention was complete. An expectation was aroused which the book didn’t disappoint.
 From the Edge of the Sky: A Memoir (David Ling, 237 pp., NZ$26.60, 25 April 1999, 0 908990 590).
 Reviewed here by A.N. Wilson (LRB, 13 May 1999).
 V.S. Naipaul: An Introduction to the Work (1972).
Vol. 22 No. 11 · 1 June 2000
C.K. Stead’s skewering of Paul Theroux (LRB, 27 April) was most enjoyable, but while he’s right about most of where Theroux goes wrong, he is wrong about one particular. ‘An American would say “on the English faculty”,’ says Stead, detecting an unidiomatic turn of phrase in the mouth of a New Zealand native. But as a US citizen by birth and a university faculty member (‘college teacher’, we would more likely say) since 1976, I can attest that no American academic would ever say such a thing. ‘I’m in the English department’ almost certainly would be the way to put it.
Given the nature of Theroux’s attack on Naipaul, perhaps I should disclose my own relationship to Stead here: I met him once, many years ago, when I was a student and he was lecturing, and I’ve since followed and enjoyed his writing. However, I have no intention of writing a book about the two of us.