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Tues lunch with Baader-MeinhofAny Human HeartWilliam BoydHamish Hamilton 1799 pp503In 1998 William Boyd pulled off a famous little hoax He invented an all-American artist one Nat Tate a friend of Jackson Pollock who in an alcoholic despair jumped off the Staten Island ferry to his death most of his potential unfulfilled Boyd wrote a little book about Tate full of grainy archive photos apparently of the artist with his cronies the critic Clement Greenberg and the poet Frank OHara There were paintings too a series inspired by Hart Cranes poem The Bridge pictures which Boyd claimed to have discovered the year beforeThe joke was carried off with some style there was an opening at a New York gallery with critics weighing up the painters contribution to abstract expressionism the book came with suitably pretentious quotes from David Bowie and Gore Vidal attesting to Tates genius the Sunday Telegraph printed extracts and then after about a week the game was up and everyone claimed not quite convincingly to have known all the time and to have just been playing alongIn his little monograph on Tate Boyd suggested that he had been alerted to the artists work through the writing of the British writer and critic Logan Mountstuart 1906-1991 biographer belle-lettriste editor failed novelist whose journals he suggested he was editing The book was full of sly little anecdotes from these journals Bumped into Tate again as I was leaving the gallery and complimented him on his work I asked if he had anything else for sale and he said - most oddly - that I would have to ask his father Later Pablo shat copiously in the middle of the room so Larry Rivers told me - that kind of thingIt now turns out however that this particular part of Boyds story at least was true Any Human Heart a novel purports to be the compendious collected diaries of the fictional Mountstuart and comes complete with
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