Waugh and the Rolling Stones

In the Washington Free Beacon, columnist Matthew Walter reviews the Rolling Stones’ latest album Blue and Lonesome. The review is not favorable. After comparing the new album to the earlier works of the Stones and others, he gets around to the related subject of rock star memoirs:

…if I were a nihilist I would say that I am firmly against the whole rock-stars-getting-clean thing that’s become so familiar to us from the shelves of bestselling memoirs they’ve graced us with for the last decade or so. What I’m really against is exertion. Evelyn Waugh, for example, took massive amounts of drugs and wrote The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold, a masterpiece of English prose, got clean(ish), stopped writing novels, pounded out his memoirs, and died on Easter Sunday in glorious prospect of the Beatific Vision. For some reason these guys keep making records, which is a shame not least because Keef’s Life is in many ways superior to A Little Learning.

His chronology of Waugh’s progression after his drugs detox is not entirely accurate since he wrote at least one more novel afterwards.  This is Unconditional Surrender which some consider one of his better novels. The autobiography was his final work. It would be interesting to know in what respects Walter considers Keith Richards’ autobiography to be superior to Waugh’s. Although many have identified a falling off in Waugh’s writing in A Little Learning, from what little I read of Richard’s book, it didn’t seem likely to qualify him as a major English prose stylist. One even suspected that he had written it by himself.

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