Happy 100th, Mr. Powell
Today, December 21, novelist Anthony Powell would have been 100. His epoch-making work Dance to the Music of Time, a novel detailing the viccisitudes of war-ravaged England through the lens of a single character's entire adult life earned him the reputation of being the British Proust, by all means well deserved. But what he did in this twelve book cycle, a sort of Anglo-Verismo Recherce, is breathtaking not merely for its trenchant observations on humanity but for its deadpan, P.G. Wodehouse-style humor. One line I will never forget is the hysterically droll, bitch quip: "He sat over his double vermouth with an air of slighted genius." Brilliant. Who among us has not seen someone do this in company?
I will say no more. Just go read it: these books occupied me for a month this year, and had me giggling, sighing, pondering, and constantly reaching for the next one. Not better than Proust, no worse, just different and equally special.