I do not recommend reading Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time while trying to edit and improve a draft of your own novel. Or maybe I do recommend it. There’s something valuable, I suppose, in boldly confronting the depths of one’s own literary inadequacy and comparative lack of talent. Halfway through the Dance, I am in love. I see that I have been a very promiscuous reader up till now, content to thoughtlessly set even my favorite authors aside after a book or two and roam about hungrily looking for fresh meat. At risk of repeating the common but misleading comparison, Proust couldn’t cure me of this; Powell has. The sixth novel in the series, The Kindly Ones, is among the very finest, funniest, most melancholy books I’ve ever had the pleasure to open.
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