Alan Hollinghurst and Ambrose Silk

Esquire magazine recently interviewed novelist Alan Hollinghurst and among the questions asked was which authors had most influenced him. An excerpt from the interview and a printed list of the books he mentioned are posted on the internet. (See this link,) ¬†Among those he identified, he first discusses JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings which he read 6 times as a boy but cannot read at all today. Evelyn Waugh’s Put Out More Flags is number 7 and when asked about why he included it, he chose simply to read a passage. This is a description of Ambrose Silk’s settling in an obscure country inn in Ireland after absconding there from the police in London toward the end of the novel. It appears in Chapter 3 (“Spring”), Part 5, Penguin, p. 204, beginning “Here Ambrose settled…” ¬†This is a reminder of just how well written and consistently funny that book is and how persistently it has been neglected in favor of Waugh’s more popular novels. It deserves more attention that it gets.

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