Afternoon Men by Anthony Powell

By Anthony Powell

Written from a vantage aspect either excessive and intentionally slim, the early novels of the past due British grasp Anthony Powell however deal within the common subject matters that will turn into a considerable a part of his oeuvre: satisfaction, greed, and the unusual drivers of human habit. extra explorations of relationships and self-esteem than plot-driven narratives, Powell’s early works demonstrate the stirrings of the unequaled kind, ear for discussion, and eye for irony that might succeed in their caustic height in his epic, A Dance to the track of Time. In Afternoon males, the earliest and maybe so much acid of Powell’s novels, we meet the museum clerk William Atwater, a tender guy stymied in either his expert and romantic endeavors. Immersed in Atwater’s coterie of acquaintances—a equally unhappy forged of rootless, cocktail-swilling London sophisticates—we study of the clash among his humdrum paintings lifestyles and louche social scene, of his unrequited love, and, in the course of a visit to the rustic, of the absurd contrivances of right manners. A satire that verges on nihilism and a narrative touched with sexism and equivalent doses self-loathing and self-medication, AfternoonMen has a grim aspect to it. yet its discussion sparks and its scenes grip, and for aficionados of Powell, this primary installment in his literary canon might be a welcome window onto the brain of an outstanding artist studying his craft.

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A smile for every occasion, a sneer for every situation. ’ Robbie said when the nurse had gone. Tell her it doesn’t matter as long as she pretends to be happy I’m still alive. He took a deep breath, the way Beryl had shown him. ‘Yes. ’ Robbie was silent, moving the shaving tray to make room for the CDs. ’ ‘Just do it once,’ Nick pleaded. ‘Be me, and tell them I’m going into the wilds for a few weeks picking cotton or something – you know how to say it like me, you’re good at that. Please,’ he said when Robbie’s face remained doubtful.

His eyes slid to Eric and back to Robbie. ’ ‘Why not? ’ ‘I can’t explain things to them. ’ Robbie slowly nodded his head, grimacing at the plaster on Nick’s hands, reminding Nick of how lame he must look in his hospital gown. ’ ‘So you do have visitors,’ Robbie said with undisguised relief. ’ He lifted his chin for inspection. ’ He nodded towards Al. ’ Robbie wasn’t listening; he was eyeing the new nurse who’d come back to collect Nick’s bottle. Nick observed his smile at work, making her cheeks blush and turning her eyes all soft and milky as she retreated with Nick’s piss.

Even that distance was too far from Cliff ’s comfort zone. There were plenty of city parks to lark around in, he’d say, if you want your fill of green. And if it was space you wanted, you only had to go to Bondi and look east. The sun was breaking through the silvery mist when they crossed the mountains. Nick and Robbie were leaving the 35 TeethMarks text 21/2/07 1:42 PM Page 36 ROSE MOXHAM past with the eastern seaboard, and steadily heading west. For a time there had been trees – wattles, gums, and others whose botanical names Robbie had rattled off and Nick had promptly forgotten.

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