By Paul Bailey
Published by Cape
Peter Smart is a man with a highly developed sense of his own inadequacy - a gentle person whose self-induced confession of his past failures gradually but perceptibly evolves into a grotesque portrait gallery of the extraordinary people who have always surrounded him.
As he sits down to bare his soul, he finds, to his surprise, that it is these other personalities who fascinate and command the stage. In youth he has been flanked by a virago of a mother, aptly dubbed by her in-laws as ‘mouth and trousers’; by mother’s decrepit paramour, Dr Leonard Cottie, author of the astonishingly boring With Stethoscope and Scalpel; his ‘brownish’ grandmother, who, cosily reeking of beer and tobacco, chuckles over ‘penny dreadfulls’ like Ainslie Gritter’s The Fatal Cup of Cocoa.