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Germs by Richard Wollheim
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Germs by Richard Wollheim
Paperback $18.95
Feb 02, 2021 | ISBN 9781681374963

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“A frighteningly good memoir.” —Andrew O’Hagan, London Review of Books

“A great book, strange and beautifully written, candid yet ornate, as if Rousseau were being rewritten by Proust, with interpolations by another author familiar with Beckett. Wollheim’s spoilt childhood—eccentric parents, important visitors (Diaghilev, Kurt Weill, Serge Lifar), grand houses and grand hotels—was lonely and sad and strange enough, but immensely more interesting than most. . . . This is not a book to be admired for a season or a year, but to be counted among those masterpieces of which the fading memory continually demands return and refreshment.” —Frank Kermode

“In Wollheim’s hands the sentence—often half a page long, full of sinuous purpose and subtle qualification—takes on extraordinary interest as he searches for the precise colour and purport of a childhood memory. The effect is of intellectual exactness given expression as a work of art. For all the book’s rigour it is its poetry—the play of charged imagery, the sense of something impalpable that outlasts analysis—that one most remembers.” —Alan Hollinghurst, The Guardian

 evokes a prelapsarian world of infantile ecstasy and nightmare with uncomfortable honesty and almost hallucinogenic power.” —Hilary Spurling, The Telegraph

“Germs is written with extraordinary elegance. Wollheim seems incapable of writing a bad sentence. . . . There is nothing quite like this poignant and mournful memoir. It is remarkable as a kind of sensory autobiography and as that rarest of memoirs, where one has the sense that one is in direct, intimate and occasionally frightening contact with the mind of a child.” —Michael J. Lewis, The Wall Street Journal

“Wollheim is tireless at finding fresh aspects to an experience he is describing. Just when you think he has shown you every last facet of some childhood episode, up he comes with more.” —Los Angeles Times

“Wollheim’s powers of description astound. Topographically or architecturally, no one has ever depicted London’s more prosperous suburbs with such exactitude. His prose is the verbal equivalent to Pre-Raphaelite painting, crowded with lovingly observed and richly colored detail . . . I doubt anyone who has read it will forget it.” —Literary Review

“The intensity, delicacy and precision of the act of memory in Germs have provoked comparisons with Proust. Just comparison perhaps, but this is a Proust who can also make you laugh out loud. . . . In this fine memoir, Richard Wollheim has transmuted his childhood hurt and loneliness into an artful, precise, self-deprecating detachment.” —The Irish Times

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