New Reviews | Titles | Authors | Subjects

Michael Frayn


Book review by Anthony Campbell. The review is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence.
This is a novel about a kind of journalism that no longer exists. John Dyson and Bob Bell work for a newspaper that seems to have some literary pretensions, never sacks anyone and would certainly have folded long before the end of the twentieth century, let alone with the arrival of the Internet. The two men are friends and share an office where not very much work gets done. John is approaching middle age and has the ambition to get on television, which he thinks will transform his life. Bob, who is younger, eats sweets for comfort and has no ambition of any kind; he seems destined to potter along as a third-rate journalist for the rest of his working life. His ultimate future is probably foreshadowed by the third member of the office, 'poor old Eddie', who spends most of the day asleep, waking up occasionally to reminisce about old times and long-dead journalists of his acquaintance.

Other characters include John's wife and children, living in a run-down suburban district, and Bob's girl friend Tessa, who loves him although he really wants to finish with her. He thinks her stupid although she is in reality a good deal more astute in her judgements of people and situations than he is.

There are two first-rate extended comic episodes, both involving John. One concerns his eventual drunken appearance in a television discussion, and the other his participation in a jolly to the Persian Gulf, courtesy of a holiday firm called Magic Carpet, which degenerates into alcoholic chaos. The book is an exemplification of Horace Walpole's epigrammatic description of life as a comedy to those that think and a tragedy to those that feel, with the emphasis on the comedy.


%T Towards the End of the Morning
%A Frayn, Michael
%I Collins
%C London
%D 1967
%P 255pp
%K fiction

New Reviews | Titles | Authors | Subjects