How do you describe the life and times of John Horne Burns? He was in turn a military intelligence officer, a schoolteacher, a critical darling after he published The Gallery, a pariah after he published anything else, and a gay man in post-WWII America. In characteristic concision, Ernest Hemingway summed the whole thing up thusly: “There was a fellow who wrote a fine book and then a stinking book about a prep school, and then he just blew himself up.”
It’s that time of year again, readers. It’s time to stock up on gossip, skim through pieces on your favorite writers and populate your bookmarks with pages from Ladbrokes and Intrade. It’s time, in other words, to prognosticate the Nobel Prize winner, which Ladbrokes predicts will be the novelist Haruki Murakami. If you read Ben Dooley’s review of 1Q84, you might have placed your bets already.
Sean Manning boldly declares Vegas: A Memoir of a Dark Season — John Gregory Dunne’s first novel — to be “the best book about Sin City ever written.” And yes, he knows what you’re thinking. He really does think it’s better than Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.