Alan Brien

Alan Brien is film critic of the Sunday Times. His book about breasts, Domes of Fortune, was published last year.

Everybody, they say, has a book in them, if only the history of their lives up to their graduation from adolescence. I would agree, but with the proviso that these books be openly offered as fiction. When I think what unreliable witnesses my book chums are, especially about each other, I wonder how any trust worthy biographies, let alone autobiographies, ever get to be written. Most of these friends tend to dispute this thesis. But then, they would, wouldn’t they? For if they have not themselves been persuaded against their natural modesty and common sense to write autobiographies, flattered out of their natural caution and canniness to take on huge biographies, they will be reviewing the end-products, or perhaps supplying pre-publication quotes for the ads. At the very least, they are buying, or borrowing, or pretending to have read, the things.

Saint Q

Alan Brien, 12 September 1991

Many is the time I have hauled Quentin Crewe into a restaurant on my back, his wrists crossed under my chin, his voice chattering into one ear or another. As I did so, I often caught a surreal glimpse of myself as some kind of hunter of human game, bearing to the cannibal feast one more main course still alive and thrashing. ‘Q’, I am happy to say, is still alive and stirring things up – not least in this quirky and curious autobiography.’



16 February 1989

R.W. Johnson (LRB, 16 February) tells us that in the volume of essays he is reviewing, ‘Eugen Weber amends Marx to say that when revolution repeats itself, it becomes not tragedy or farce, but tradition.’ This not very striking observation seems to depend on the belief that Marx made that comment about revolution. He did not. What he wrote, in the opening sentence of ‘The 18th Brumaire of Louis...
Categorised as a living legend, Kenneth Tynan replied that he felt more like an exploded myth. Reading Karl Miller’s review of The Passion of John Aspinall (LRB, 19 May), I suspect some unborn Oxonian legends are now becoming inflated myths. When Aspinall was up at Jesus College (1948-50), I shared language tutorials with him in the English course. Maybe this is why Anglo-Saxon and Middle English...

‘Lenin: The Novel’

15 October 1987

SIR: A pity you could not have dished out my first novel, a fictional diary of Lenin’s life from adolescence to terminal illness, to someone with just a little more knowledge of the period and the persons described than D.A.N. Jones (LRB, 15 October). I’m afraid I find it hard to take seriously the judgment of a critic who regrets that my ‘enormous, fact-studded’ tome is not accompanied by...

Powerful People

D.A.N. Jones, 15 October 1987

Chinua Achebe’s masterly novel concerns three powerful Africans. They are drawn on the dust-cover as three green bottles, from the English song: ‘If one green bottle should...

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