Where does art start or reality end?
Happily loitering about London, c. 1949, with the intent of gathering material for her writing, Fleur Talbot finds a job “on the grubby edge of the literary world” at the very peculiar Autobiographical Association. Mad egomaniacs writing their memoirs in advance — or poor fools ensnared by a blackmailer? When the association’s pompous director steals Fleur’s manuscript, fiction begins to appropriate life.
Art, reality and the strange ways the two imitate one another are at the core of Muriel Spark's delightful Loitering with Intent, first published in 1981. Would-be novelist Fleur Talbot works for the snooty, irascible Sir Quentin Oliver at the Autobiographical Association, whose members are all at work on their memoirs. When her employer gets his hands on Fleur's novel-in-progress, mayhem ensues when its scenes begin coming true. Generating hilarious turns of phrase and larger-than-life characters (especially Sir Quentin's batty mother), Sparks's inimitable style make this literary joyride thoroughly appealing. ( June 28)