Huw Rhys's Reviews > Any Human Heart

Any Human Heart by William Boyd
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Mar 30, 14

Read from March 27 to April 06, 2011

If you can imagine Johnny English meeting Rolf Harris meeting Forrest Gump meeting Grahame Greene meeting Adrian Mole (just after Sue Townshend lost interest in him), then you're not a million miles away from how the plot in this novel is set up.

And although it does contain a lot of banality along with quite a few other weaknesses, this doesn't spoil too much what is a very, very special novel.

When I read something that moves me, or resonates very strongly with me, I turn over the bottom of the page of a book. I suppose I have this vague idea that one day I'll go and find all these turned up pages in the books that I've read and.... do something. I probably turned up more pages in this book than in most of the other books I've read in the past 10 years, put together. It is just chock full of tasty, golden nuggets. Just comments on life really - but extremely perceptive comments, that really hit home.

At 480-odd pages, this does feel like a long book - but it doesn't read "long" at all - in fact, I was enjoying it so much that I rationed myself to small chunks for the last 80 or so pages, just because I didn't want to finish the book. I had the sense of "I'm missing you already" when I finished the last page.

You do get the notion that maybe an over enthusiastic sub editor must have been at work on the book though - there are a series of huge, very apparent narrative contradictions - and then the odd character gets introduced as if he/ she is familiar to us, when they quite patently aren't. You expect a back story further on, and it never appears, and you can only assume that an earlier reference to that character must have been chopped out by our visceral sub editor. But then, it's meant to be based on a series of diaries, so maybe the back story would be obvious to the writer.... one of the many extra layers that keeps you thinking, thinking again, and thinking once more long after you've put this book back on the shelf. Which makes you take it off the shelf again... which is no bad thing at all, is it?

But as I say, the apparent frequent flaws don't actually detract too much from your enjoyment of this terrific story- in fact, the flaws mirror the life of our hero, Logan Mountstuart. He's no perfect specimen, but then who is? That's one of the many reasons that this book is so good.

One of the rare books that I'll be putting on my "must read again" list. I loved it.
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03/28/2011 page 80
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Sonya I think if you keep the structure's conceit in mind, that the words of the book are journal entries of LM, then the random appearances and name dropping with no-follow through would make sense. If I were keeping a journal, no one thirty years from now would be able to make much sense of what might seem to be random tidbits from a somewhat unremarkable existence. I'm glad you enjoyed the novel overall. It's one of my favorites.


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