Any Human Heart was my latest foray into William Boyd’s back catalogue. The story was completely different to the others I’ve read while being equally as good.
Any Human Heart is written as the journal of a fictional character, Logan Mountstuart. The book contained annotations and an index at the back with page references to real people, places and events which made it seem as if Logan were a real person. Logan was a writer and the people in his life were a who’s who of the writing and arts world as well as fictional versions of society figures. They included the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, Picasso and many others, all of whom lived their lives alongside the fictional characters.
The journal began when Logan was a teenager in school with his two best friends during the early 1920s. It continued through Logan’s University years followed by his early successes as a writer, the effects of the stock market crash of the late 1920s on his family’s finances, then his marriage and the birth of his daughter before he met a woman who became the love of his life. World War Two interrupted Logan’s life enormously and significantly changed the life he had expected to live after the war ended.
As well as being a writer, Logan was also an art collector and at various times during his life owned works by many of the most famous artists of his times. He had very strong ideas of what was good art and what was not, and I was amused to learn that Logan had a very low opinion of Jackson Pollock’s works (an opinion still shared by many older Australians who were outraged when the Labour Government of the time controversially purchased Blue Poles for a record price in 1973. These days the estimated price of the painting make the purchase a good buy, but the value of the painting as art is still a talking point).
The places where Logan lived were diverse and included Uruguay, England, France, the United States of America as well as a stint in Nigeria.
Logan isn’t perfect and he doesn’t pretend to be, at least to himself in his journals.
One small complaint is that I felt Logan’s story had the potential to play with my emotions far more than it actually did. For example, some sections left me feeling happy but not overjoyed, or sad but not gutted. I felt as if the author was capable of pulling at my heartstrings had he wanted to but restrained himself.
Despite this, Any Human Heart is very good and I am loving working my way through William Boyd’s books.