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Valmouth and Other Novels.

There's never been anyone like him. A number of writers over the years have been called Firbankian - early Waugh, Van Vechten, more recent novelists like James McCourt, Edmund Apffel, Alan Hollinghurst - but none of them has been able to capture the inimitable mixture of wit, compression, worldliness, perversity, blasphemy, pathos, and pure originality of Firbank's fiction. Fortunately, he's been kept in print rather steadily since the Firbank revival in the late forties, when New Directions brought out two omnibuses (still available) that contain his eight novels. The same firm has just issued Caprice separately, Firbank's third novel (1917), a slim little treasure concerning Miss Sarah Sinquier's ill-fated attempt to become an actress, and Penguin has reissued a paperback omnibus from the sixties containing three of Firbank's later novels: Valmouth (set in an English health spa), Prancing Nigger (the innocent Mouth family succumbs to corruption in the big city), and Concerning the Eccentricities of Cardinal Pirelli (about one of the Church's more colorful priests). You've never read such beautiful sentences or heard such slashing wit. Wear your best clothes when you read these, and have a magnum of champagne at hand.
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Author:Moore, Steven
Publication:The Review of Contemporary Fiction
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 22, 1993
Previous Article:Caprice.
Next Article:Albucius.

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