What the Editors Are Reading

Courtesy of our Westminster correspondent, Freddy Gray, who kindly sent me the book from London as an unexpected present, I’m nearly through Fathers and Sons: The Autobiography of a Family, by Alexander Waugh, the son of the late journalist Auberon Waugh, grandson of Evelyn, and himself a classical-music critic (ironic, as Evelyn Waugh loathed music of any sort) as well as the author of an irreverent book called God (more ironic still, considering his grandfather’s devo sut Catholicism).  I opened Fathers and Sons half-expecting a book-length development of the theme of Philip Larkin’s poem “This Be the Verse” (beginning “They f--k you up, your mum and dad,” and ending, “Get out as early as you can / And don’t have any kids yourself”), and was pleased to find it just the opposite.  Alexander W. is a fine writer, like his forebears, and his book is consistently compelling from the beginning.  Having read (so far as I know) every biography of Evelyn ever published, I found a great deal here that was new about him and the Waughs coming before and after him.  Alexander’s portrait of his great-grandfather Arthur, the book publisher, I found especially revealing, as it seems to me to explain much about his son’s notorious personality.  Arthur Waugh was an embarrassingly sentimental man who...

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