I need to update my sidebar. I’ve finished 2 more Waugh novels. Handful of Dust first. Freaked me out because I’d read Scoop and HoD is no comedy. It’s a flippin horror novel. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I just hated seeing the only decent character in the book come to such an unthinkable end. (Nice to have the background from his grandson’s memoir under my belt before reading btw — pretty obvious that Evelyn was processing the breakup of his first marriage, not to mention the rather monstrous way his father treated him.)
Next: Decline & Fall. Comic novel. Loved it.
Conclusion after HoD & D&F: the man was a masterful craftsman. The books are absolutely flawless IMO. The structure, pacing, character development, the weight he gives various aspects of the narrative — I didn’t notice a single wrong note. Haven’t been that impressed by a piece of fiction in a looong time. And all the more impressive considering D&F was his first novel.
Another not-original-observation — Evelyn considered becoming a cabinetmaker originally, and the books have a very constructed feel to them. You do feel like you’re experiencing something 3-dimensional, with drawers that you open and find something important inside, and depth & weight, and just the right touch of artful decoration here & there. Like the glimpse of an inside joke or a throwaway line about a minor character that makes the hair on your neck stand up, it’s so well done.
Reading Vile Bodies now. Enjoying it. Still in the first half. His first wife left him while he was writing it; I understand you can tell, the book changes midway through, where he stopped writing and then later picked it up again . . .