The New Confessions
By William Boyd
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780375705038, 480pp.)
Publication Date: October 10, 2000
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In this extraordinary novel, William Boyd presents the autobiography of John James Todd, whose uncanny and exhilarating life as one of the most unappreciated geniuses of the twentieth century is equal parts Laurence Stern, Charles Dickens, Robertson Davies, and Saul Bellow, and a hundred percent William Boyd.
From his birth in 1899, Todd was doomed. Emerging from his angst-filled childhood, he rushes into the throes of the twentieth century on the Western Front during the Great War, and quickly changes his role on the battlefield from cannon fodder to cameraman. When he becomes a prisoner of war, he discovers Rousseau's Confessions, and dedicates his life to bringing the memoir to the silver screen. Plagued by bad luck and blind ambition, Todd becomes a celebrated London upstart, a Weimar luminary, and finally a disgruntled director of cowboy movies and the eleventh member of the Hollywood Ten. Ambitious and entertaining, Boyd has invented a most irresistible hero.
William Boyd’s first novel, A Good Man in Africa, won a Whitbread Prize and a Somerset Maugham Award; his second, An Ice-Cream War, was awarded the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Brazzaville Beach won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize; and The Blue Afternoon won the Los Angeles Times Prize for Fiction. Boyd lives in London.
"An entertaining and darkly comic novel, a novel given weight and ballast by the pressure of recent history." --The New York Times
"Here is the rarest of books, the sort you want to read again--even before you've finished it the first time. . . . Boyd gives us a magnificent experience." --People
"Boyd has created an important and complex character in a vividly evoked series of settings. . . . He has written a subtle and provocative history of our time." --Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Entertaining and intellectually engaging." --Time