by William Boyd
'Refulgent' is a word much liked by William Boyd in his 650-page tome of non-fiction writing and journalism. 'Rebarbative' is another. For the reader, 'prodigious' comes to mind when one considers that Bamboo, which he says represents about 40 per cent of his non-fiction output, comes on top of nine novels - the latest, Restless, having just been published ('a good, rollicking read,' says The Observer) - and three collections of short stories. Helpfully, Boyd has compartmentalised his writings here into seven sections - Life, Literature, Art, Africa, Film, Television, and People and Places. There's his classic review of John Mortimer's 1981 television adaptation of Brideshead Revisited, several fine essays on Evelyn Waugh, and some excellent descriptive writing, such as Stars at Tallapoosa, a small American town in Georgia, 'which is so deftly and deliciously done, I immediately turned back and read it again,' says the man at The Telegraph. Best is his criticism on painting and film, exceptional for the way he translates a visual language into the written word.