'The only question left hanging in the air is the one which every journalist asks himself on submitting an article. It is also the one with which we may all eventually, in trembling hope, face our Maker: Will this do?'
The question should rather be: How does one cope with being the son of a father as famous as Evelyn Waugh? From this side-splittingly funny autobiography it is clear to see that the young Auberon more than managed. A privileged background, unusual childhood and public school education are followed by Oxford and a career as a writer and columnist. Waugh's portrait of his father is affectionate yet droll, his tone self-deprecating, and his stories entertaining and sad by turns. The biting wit is addictive.
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A journalist, satirist and novelist, Auberon Waugh was born in Dulverton, Somerset, in 1939, the eldest son of Evelyn Waugh. He was educated at Downside and Christ Church, Oxford, where he made a number of lifelong friends and the first of his enemies. Vendettas were to be a feature of his journalism. Waugh was a columnist for The Spectator for more than twenty years and wrote a diary for Private Eye for fifteen. He was a regular contributor to The Daily Telegraph (most famously his 'Way of the World' column which ran for ten years) and the Sunday Telegraph for much of his working life. He became editor of The Literary Review in 1986. In addition to his witty, 'vituperative' columns, Waugh wrote five novels. Auberon Waugh died in 2001.From Kirkus Reviews:
A minor, triflingly amusing memoir by the British journalist best known for being Evelyn Waugh's son. Though Waugh (The Last Word, 1980, etc.) has carved out a respectable niche as the editor of Londons Literary Review, has contributed to a number of other English publications, has even cranked out the occasional small book, he has not led the kind of life that usually justifies a memoir. He failed out of Oxford, accidentally shot himself in the army, then embarked on a literary/journalistic life, just this side of hackdom, with middling success. His account is all too typical of the gently retributive, dryly amusing, name-dropping memoir cranked out on the other side of the Atlantic, but it doesnt travel well. Unless youre a rabid anglophile, the passing squawks and the squabbles of the British literary world look, at several thousand miles removed, a lot like microbes fighting. And why do British memoirists insist on going on and on about their school days, as if the first 18 years were the only ones that mattered? Fans of Waugh pre, will find some worthwhile nuggets here. A letter to Nancy Mitford typifies his peevish, snitty attitude toward his children: ``My two eldest children are here and a great bore . . . the boy [Auberon] lives for pleasure and is thought a great wit by his contemporaries. I have tried him drunk & I have tried him sober.'' Waugh fils, fortunately, is made of sterner stuff, laving his childhood, indeed his life, with an appealing, gimlet-eyed acerbity. He has inherited much of his fathers gift for invective, and his account of the numerous libel actions hes been involved with (Englands libel laws notoriously favor the plaintiff) are some of the better non-Evelyn parts of this book. Will this do? Perhaps not quite. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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