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The Loved One was written as a result of Evelyn Waugh's trip to Hollywood in February and March 1947. In Hollywood, Waugh enjoyed meeting Charlie Chaplin and Walt Disney ("the two artists of the place") but complained about the accommodations, the quality of food and the lack of wine at meals, the relaxed dress and informal manners, and the small talk of service workers – The Loved One was written as a result of Evelyn Waugh's trip to Hollywood in February and March 1947. In Hollywood, Waugh enjoyed meeting Charlie Chaplin and Walt Disney ("the two artists of the place") but complained about the accommodations, the quality of food and the lack of wine at meals, the relaxed dress and informal manners, and the small talk of service workers – "the exact opposite of the English custom by which the upper classes are expected to ask personal questions of the lower". His trip to Hollywood was successful, however, in a literary way. He wrote "I found a deep mine of literary gold in the cemetery of Forest Lawn and the work of the morticians and intend to get to work immediately on a novelette staged there." Forest Lawn's founder, Dr. Hubert Eaton, and his staff gave Waugh tours of the facility and introduced him to their field. Waugh also had a copy of Eaton's book "Embalming Techniques", which Waugh annotated with marginalia. As Waugh felt that the eschatological or apocalyptic implications he had intended in Brideshead Revisited had escaped many American readers, he was determined to highlight eschatological aspects of American society in The Loved One.


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The Loved One was written as a result of Evelyn Waugh's trip to Hollywood in February and March 1947. In Hollywood, Waugh enjoyed meeting Charlie Chaplin and Walt Disney ("the two artists of the place") but complained about the accommodations, the quality of food and the lack of wine at meals, the relaxed dress and informal manners, and the small talk of service workers – The Loved One was written as a result of Evelyn Waugh's trip to Hollywood in February and March 1947. In Hollywood, Waugh enjoyed meeting Charlie Chaplin and Walt Disney ("the two artists of the place") but complained about the accommodations, the quality of food and the lack of wine at meals, the relaxed dress and informal manners, and the small talk of service workers – "the exact opposite of the English custom by which the upper classes are expected to ask personal questions of the lower". His trip to Hollywood was successful, however, in a literary way. He wrote "I found a deep mine of literary gold in the cemetery of Forest Lawn and the work of the morticians and intend to get to work immediately on a novelette staged there." Forest Lawn's founder, Dr. Hubert Eaton, and his staff gave Waugh tours of the facility and introduced him to their field. Waugh also had a copy of Eaton's book "Embalming Techniques", which Waugh annotated with marginalia. As Waugh felt that the eschatological or apocalyptic implications he had intended in Brideshead Revisited had escaped many American readers, he was determined to highlight eschatological aspects of American society in The Loved One.

30 review for The Loved One (20th Century Classics)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Paige

    The copy I had of this was used, and had underlines where the previous reader would note in the margin "funny," and "ha." This reader stopped doing this by the third or fourth page, either because s/he no longer found it funny, or it became absurd to underline all passages and mark them as "ha." I think most readers will fall into either of these categories. I am in "ha."

  2. 5 out of 5

    Hugh

    This is my first experience of reading Waugh, thanks to the Reading the 20th Century group. This is a savage and very funny dark comedy, subtitled "An Anglo-American Tragedy". According to Waugh's preface, it was inspired by a trip to Hollywood to meet a producer who wanted to film Brideshead Revisited, a trip on which Waugh spent much of his time in the cemetery he dubs "Whispering Glades". Much of it is about misunderstandings and cultural differences between Britain and America, and some of t This is my first experience of reading Waugh, thanks to the Reading the 20th Century group. This is a savage and very funny dark comedy, subtitled "An Anglo-American Tragedy". According to Waugh's preface, it was inspired by a trip to Hollywood to meet a producer who wanted to film Brideshead Revisited, a trip on which Waugh spent much of his time in the cemetery he dubs "Whispering Glades". Much of it is about misunderstandings and cultural differences between Britain and America, and some of this seems as relevant as ever. The story centres on Dennis Barlow, a young British writer who is earning his keep by working at a pet cemetery. He is lodging with an older writer, who is fired by his studio and reacts by hanging himself. Barlow is asked by the British community as represented by the Cricket Club to arrange an appropriate funeral, and much of the first part of the book centres on his introduction to the cemetery and its bizarre, lavish and tasteless rituals. He meets and falls for the aptly named Aimée Thanatogenos a beautician who works there, who is also being pursued by the embalmer Mr Joyboy, who sends her smiling corpses. To say much more would spoil the book for anyone new to it, but Waugh doesn't spare much sympathy for any of the characters, all of whom are rather one-dimensional. The book is full of very funny moments and a pleasure to read.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Evelyn Waugh wrote this novel while visiting the US, shortly before WWII. While there, he became fascinated by the ‘unsurpassed glories,’ of a cemetery, which is renamed here as, “Whispering Glades.” The book was published in 1948 and is set in Hollywood; among the British expat community. Dennis Barlow is a young poet, who is staying with Sir Francis Hinsley. Dennis is currently working at a pet cemetery, prosaically named, “The Happier Hunting Ground,” much to the disapproval of many fellow ex Evelyn Waugh wrote this novel while visiting the US, shortly before WWII. While there, he became fascinated by the ‘unsurpassed glories,’ of a cemetery, which is renamed here as, “Whispering Glades.” The book was published in 1948 and is set in Hollywood; among the British expat community. Dennis Barlow is a young poet, who is staying with Sir Francis Hinsley. Dennis is currently working at a pet cemetery, prosaically named, “The Happier Hunting Ground,” much to the disapproval of many fellow expats. At the beginning of the book, the two men are visited by the rather bossy, Sir Ambrose Abercrombie, who points out, “There are jobs that an Englishman just doesn’t take. Yours, dear boy, is pre-eminently one of those.” This is a novel about the clash of cultures, British snobbishness and the satirising of a garish funeral industry. When Dennis has to organise a funeral, he visits “Whispering Glades,” which his own pet funeral parlour is modelled on. There he comes across the young Aimee Thanatogenos, a junior cosmetician, with a bad memory for, “live faces.” Dennis begins to woo her, by sending love poems, not necessarily written by himself. Meanwhile, Aimee, who was a hair stylist before discovering the joy of clients who were unable to speak back, admires Mr Joyboy, the embalmer, who shows his own affection in the expressions he creates on the corpses he sends on to her. I have always loved Evelyn Waugh’s wicked sense of humour and he is at his best here – sly, satirical and utterly snobbish. While the British attempt to keep up appearances, playing cricket in the Californian sunshine and putting their hands in their pockets to cover up their countrymen’s mistakes, Aimee is torn between her two suitors and full of self doubt. Like all satire, this is cruel in places and you can just imagine the delight Waugh had presenting this to his publisher. Surely as much delight as I had in reading it – including the preface, in which the author is keen to point out that he is not obsessed by morticians and that readers should refrain from sending him any more information about the subject. I hear the weary sigh, and I smile…

  4. 5 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    You heard of the phrase “shooting fish in a barrel” – that’s what Evelyn Waugh does here. There are two barrels, but both are of solid oak and the fish are glittery and plump so there is still a lot of fun to be had. The story I get from Wikipedia which got it from his biographer is that Hollywood wanted to film Brideshead and Waugh didn’t want them to because he didn’t think Americans understood the theological implications of Brideshead – that’s some classic grumpiness, you have to sneakingly You heard of the phrase “shooting fish in a barrel” – that’s what Evelyn Waugh does here. There are two barrels, but both are of solid oak and the fish are glittery and plump so there is still a lot of fun to be had. The story I get from Wikipedia which got it from his biographer is that Hollywood wanted to film Brideshead and Waugh didn’t want them to because he didn’t think Americans understood the theological implications of Brideshead – that’s some classic grumpiness, you have to sneakingly admire it. While in Hollywood sneering at the producers he discovered the vast city of the dead that is the Forest Lawn cemetery in LA and immediately realised there was a ton of comedy gold to be picked up for free. No doubt, he has a pleasantly poisonous tongue does our Evelyn. Here he describes one young lady’s work with the loved ones : Fortunately there was little of importance on hand. She helped the girl in the next cubicle glue a toupe to a more than slippery scalp; she hastily brushed over a male baby with flesh tint So this is moderately vicious satire of a) the British in Hollywood and much more obviously b) the tacky grotesqueries of rich dead Americans. There are three sideswipes also – c) the ridiculous-even-for-Californians business of pet funerals, d) a spiritual advisor called Guru Brahmin, he turns out to be two guys who aren’t that spiritual at all, and e) the old favourite, the advertising business. Here’s the Waugh version of a 1940s ad for a new perfume : From the depth of the fever-ridden swamp where juju drums throb for the human sacrifice, Jeanette’s latest exclusive creation Jungle Venom comes to you with the remorseless stealth of the hunting cannibal. And here he is on the beneficient properties of smoking : The cigarettes Mr Slump smoked were prepared by doctors, so the advertisements declared, with the sole purpose of protecting the respiratory system. Yet Mr Slump suffered and the young secretary suffered with him, hideously. For the first hours of every day he was possessed by a cough which arose from tartarean depths and was relieved only by whisky. Well, this tiny novel was okay, kind of shambolic and lacksadaisical and not too taxing for a writer of Waugh’s powers, but if you want something after you read Brideshead, I suggest either Scoop or Decline and Fall. 2.5 stars generously rounded up to 3 because I’m in a good mood tonight.

  5. 5 out of 5

    David

    My appreciation of Evelyn Waugh's The Loved One is authentic, sure, but at the same time a little reserved because, try as I might, I can't convincingly revise my initial impression of it as a cheap shot at American life and values -- which isn't to say that it isn't funny or compelling or entertaining, but rather that in the considerable chunk of time separating us from the initial publication of The Loved One (this time marking the ascendancy of the United States on the global stage both polit My appreciation of Evelyn Waugh's The Loved One is authentic, sure, but at the same time a little reserved because, try as I might, I can't convincingly revise my initial impression of it as a cheap shot at American life and values -- which isn't to say that it isn't funny or compelling or entertaining, but rather that in the considerable chunk of time separating us from the initial publication of The Loved One (this time marking the ascendancy of the United States on the global stage both politically and culturally) these satiric portrayals of the American ethos -- and particularly that of 'Hollywood'/Southern California -- have become somewhat rote and reflexive. True, it isn't Waugh's fault that he belonged to an early generation of such satirists, but likewise it isn't my fault that I was born too late to appreciate The Loved One for the freshness of its satirical takes on American life (specifically, golden age 'Hollywood life'). But never mind all that. I'm quite prepared to commit a grave sin of literary criticism; I am going to medically separate the conjoined twins of content and style and chuck my minor qualms with the content of The Loved One into an incubator while I maternally coo over the very much healthy and appealing style of Evelyn Waugh's prose. I realize I have birthed an atrocious natal analogy here, but it's too early in the morning and my self-criticism is too insufficiently roused to correct it. Live with it. Please. Back to the point. Waugh's writing is so graceful and entertaining that I'll very likely forgive him anything -- even his characterization of Americans as cultureless semi-morons. In discussing this book with a friend, it was brought to my attention that umbrage at Waugh's treatment of Americans might be inappropriate when one considers that his main character Dennis Barlow, an Englishman, is a fairly loathsome human being. This led me to recall a previous discussion I had many years ago (and have repeated with alterations many times since) about the nature of men and women. Before anyone rises up in wrathful indignation at what I am about to say, please also read the clarification which follows the initial statement. Thank you. In my late teens and early twenties, I was fond of saying that men were evil and that women were stupid. Of course, this was only a shorthand (and foolish) way of expressing a more complex idea. In the politics of gender, that is, men obviously still enjoy greater power (socially), and power, as we know, corrupts. Thus, there is a tendency for men at their weakest to approach 'evil' in their relationships with women because they retain some semblance of power. Meanwhile, there is a tendency among women at their weakest to 'put up with' the evil of men -- sometimes even to encourage it. If we were to characterize this behavior glibly and overly simplistically, we might call it stupidity. Of course this evil/stupid dichotomy isn't limited to gender politics. It can be reasserted in almost any dual-variable relationship in which one term exerts power or precedence over the other. In other words, Israelis are evil, and Palestinians are stupid. The Catholic leadership is evil, and the Catholic rank-and-file is stupid. Heterosexuals are evil, and homosexuals are stupid. Written in black-and-white, these statements may seem unfortunately provocative and categorical, but if set aside our desire to be outraged, we will easily comprehend their meaning. In Waugh's The Loved One, I think it's pretty clear that the British are evil and the Americans are stupid. Realizing this then, we might be tempted so say, 'Well... that's good then. There's no (or at least less) moral culpability in being stupid, and being evil is most definitely a far worse judgment.' Yes, but... evil, since it concerns morality, is a choice, and stupidity may not be. Or if stupidity is a choice (and is more correctly understood as ignorance), it's a far more difficult choice to decipher. (Can one be too stupid to realize that one chooses stupidity?) Therefore, while the moral judgment might be in favor of the Americans, the British retain their superior understanding of the world and their ability to 'choose' other than what they are. Am I overstating this? Yes, very much so. Am I inventing the terms of debate (evil/stupid) and then arriving at conclusions on that basis, as if the terms were already universally conceded? Oh, yeah, definitely. Am I making unfair intimations about Waugh's intentions? Yup, yup, yup. I make no claims for fairness or validity... I just wanted to follow this line of thought wherever it might lead me. But yes. Read this book. If you have qualms about the satirical 'content' (and you probably don't), compartmentalize them and just enjoy the wry prose. The story itself concerns an Englishman living in Hollywood with little success (in the sense of 'success' usually defined by Hollywood). He works at a pet funeral home but becomes involved with a cosmetician at a cultish, new-agey (human) funeral home -- which, in its bombastic artifice, seems to represent everything peculiar about the local culture and spirit. Aimee (the cosmetician) is torn, romantically, between the cynical, duplicitous Englishman and an earnest, masterful mortician (Mr. Joyboy) she works with. And thereafter, as they say, hijinks ensue.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Loretta

    What an excellent book! It definitely kept my interest and had I not had other things to do I would have read the book in one sitting! Funny, in spots especially when Dennis Barlow is planning the funeral with Miss Thanatogenos! I nearly split a gut! I would highly recommend this book to all! Enjoy!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Steven Godin

    ***1/2 Before the outbreak of WW2 the quintessentially British writer Evelyn Waugh briefly visited New York and Washington, before being invited with his wife to Hollywood where a producer expressed interest in filming Brideshead Revisited. In the end that came to nothing. At the time he was glad to escape England but found the sprawling, uninspiring features of Tinseltown not really to his liking. Of all things, it was a Cemetery there that obviously left an impression on him, thus leading to th ***1/2 Before the outbreak of WW2 the quintessentially British writer Evelyn Waugh briefly visited New York and Washington, before being invited with his wife to Hollywood where a producer expressed interest in filming Brideshead Revisited. In the end that came to nothing. At the time he was glad to escape England but found the sprawling, uninspiring features of Tinseltown not really to his liking. Of all things, it was a Cemetery there that obviously left an impression on him, thus leading to this Anglo-American Tragicomedy set in L.A. He clearly felt adrift in the machinations of the commercial film industry at the time, and this short novel reads like a perfectly formed assault on the spiritual emptiness of postwar Los Angeles. Dennis Barlow is a British a poet, and throws in the towel at a film studio he works for to take a job at a pet cemetery, The Happier Hunting Ground. His mentor, Sir Francis Hinsley, takes his own life after being fired from the same studio. And it's when Barlow arranges his burial at the vast funeral park 'Whispering Glades', where he meets Aimée Thanatogenos, a mortuary cosmetician, whom he woos by sending her poems culled from an anthology. Aimée is also being courted by the head embalmer, Mr Joyboy. Torn between these two men, who she feels have both let her down, she takes drastic measures after writing to a guru asking for advice. The Loved One I would describe as a dark satire aimed at multiple targets. These include the funeral industry, expatriate Englishmen in Hollywood, and the popular culture of the 1940s. In particular, he portraits Whispering Glades as a kind of funerary theme park, where death is sentimentalized and cosmeticized beyond recognition—together with its ghastly counterpart, the nearby pet cemetery. The tip-off to the book’s deeper, darker meaning comes early on, when an elderly Englishman whose Hollywood career takes a terminal nosedive makes passing reference to a magazine piece about Soviet scientists who are said to be keeping a severed dog’s head alive. Waugh could be riotously funny when he set his mind to it, and even though there are some amusing aspects to The Loved One, it came across as a far more serious work that I thought it would be. Even though at first, you don't really notice it. It's well written certainly, but his characters lack the spark from other novels, and are generally characters that lack any sort of true character, also it features a genuinely horrific ending, but one that does carry a profoundly significant message.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    With Caitlin Doughty working to make death practices more natural by founding The Order of the Good Death, and via her three books, including "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and Other Lessons From the Crematory" and her new bestseller, "Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs: Big Questions from Tiny Mortals," Evelyn Waugh's satire seems more relevant than ever and is even more delightful to read and re-read. In "Smoke" Caitlin writes about Forest Lawn, the famous Hollywood cemetery where so many celebrities are b With Caitlin Doughty working to make death practices more natural by founding The Order of the Good Death, and via her three books, including "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and Other Lessons From the Crematory" and her new bestseller, "Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs: Big Questions from Tiny Mortals," Evelyn Waugh's satire seems more relevant than ever and is even more delightful to read and re-read. In "Smoke" Caitlin writes about Forest Lawn, the famous Hollywood cemetery where so many celebrities are buried or entombed, every inch of which was carefully designed to distract from the fact that it's full of rotting corpses and piles of bones. She refers to it as a "theme park" of death. This same cemetery, which Waugh here calls "Whispering Glades," is a target of "The Loved One," which Waugh wrote n 1948. It's short and though shallow on the surface, it's devious in its depths. It's been a favorite book of mine since the first time I read it, probably as a teen. Now I'm struck by Doughty's and Waugh's similarly astute and snarky observations, separated by almost seventy years. This is nothing like the Evelyn Waugh of Brideshead Revisited." But it was MGM's desire to adapt "Brideshead" that brought Waugh to Hollywood, which he mostly detested. "The Loved One" is Waugh unleashed on Hollywood culture: the film studios, British ex-pats living there, even the hotels and cuisine -- and Forest Lawn, which inspired him as the ultimate symbol of vapid American culture. At the time Forest Lawn was considered the creme de la creme of American cemeteries. As an American, it's easy to see why Forest Lawn shocked and offended his sensibilities and even though some of "The Loved One" stems from Waugh's snobbery, he's so often spot-on we get to play along too. His send-up of morticians and death practices is hilarious. There's even a pet cemetery called "The Happier Hunting Ground." Waugh makes his points broadly and although for almost all of his life he was not known to be a fun guy, this is the one book he wrote which reads like he had a lot of fun writing it (even if he didn't). The story is twisted with a twist of romantic rivalry and the end is delightfully weird. I love it and those who haven't read it and will also love it, you know who you are.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Vit Babenco

    What is this thing necrophilia? According to Evelyn Waugh it is a truly megalomaniac obsession with burying the dead. And The Loved One is a cynically murderous and hilarious… obituary. “Our Grade A service includes several unique features. At the moment of committal, a white dove, symbolizing the deceased’s soul, is liberated over the crematorium.” An authentic talent, applied properly, allows even death to become a cosmic triumphal event. “Hair, skin and nails and I brief the embalmers for expres What is this thing necrophilia? According to Evelyn Waugh it is a truly megalomaniac obsession with burying the dead. And The Loved One is a cynically murderous and hilarious… obituary. “Our Grade A service includes several unique features. At the moment of committal, a white dove, symbolizing the deceased’s soul, is liberated over the crematorium.” An authentic talent, applied properly, allows even death to become a cosmic triumphal event. “Hair, skin and nails and I brief the embalmers for expression and pose. Have you brought any photographs of your Loved One? They are the greatest help in re-creating personality. Was he a very cheerful old gentleman?” And death needs many gifted artists at its service…

  10. 5 out of 5

    Erica

    Evelyn Waugh is my guilty pleasure. His books are like candy, they are so easy to read. But if they are candy, they are lemon drops coated with arsenic. Waugh's bitter, sarcastic, and completely devastating portraits of humanity warm my heart. His characters destroy each other's lives so casually, and I love it. In The Loved One, Waugh takes on L.A. British neocolonial snobbery in post-war Southern California, set in a Disneyesque funeral home (actually a "memorial park") and a much less classy Evelyn Waugh is my guilty pleasure. His books are like candy, they are so easy to read. But if they are candy, they are lemon drops coated with arsenic. Waugh's bitter, sarcastic, and completely devastating portraits of humanity warm my heart. His characters destroy each other's lives so casually, and I love it. In The Loved One, Waugh takes on L.A. British neocolonial snobbery in post-war Southern California, set in a Disneyesque funeral home (actually a "memorial park") and a much less classy pet cemetery ("The Happier Hunting Ground"): how much better can life be?

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nigeyb

    A supremely enjoyable, blackly comic satire of certain traits of American culture which, despite being first published in 1948, still feels remarkably contemporary in 2017. The characters are cyphers for what Evelyn Waugh (and sane people everywhere) perceive as the ridiculousness of some aspects of contemporary culture specifically film studios and cemeteries. Most of the action takes place in a Los Angeles-based film studio, a pet cemetery, and Whispering Glades (based on Forest Lawn Memorial A supremely enjoyable, blackly comic satire of certain traits of American culture which, despite being first published in 1948, still feels remarkably contemporary in 2017. The characters are cyphers for what Evelyn Waugh (and sane people everywhere) perceive as the ridiculousness of some aspects of contemporary culture specifically film studios and cemeteries. Most of the action takes place in a Los Angeles-based film studio, a pet cemetery, and Whispering Glades (based on Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale) and all of these, according to Waugh, are branches of show business and places of illusion. Illusion masquerading as truth. Waugh also satirises the British ex-pats who reside in Hollywood, and who feel compelled to pretend to be upper class and to accentuate their Britishness. Woe betide anyone who resists this expectation. Like a colonial civil servant gone native, he or she must be quietly packed off. Behind the allusions, so beautifully deconstructed, Waugh reveals only cruelty, exploitation and absurdities. I am conscious that I might have made 'The Loved One' sound quite serious and heavy going but therein lies its genius, it's wonderfully readable, frequently amusing and occasionally laugh out loud funny. It's also a very concise 125 pages, so a quick and easy read. 4/5

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jon Nakapalau

    I found this book slightly disturbing...it seemed to me that the point being made was that a life 'lived well' is often hidden behind a veil of conformity - that veil often being more important than happiness. My fist reading of Waugh, but not my last.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore

    Macabre and funny both at the same time. Dennis Barlow, a British poet who finds himself out of the Hollywood studio that hired him takes up work at Happier Hunting Ground, a cemetery for pets. When a fellow Briton, in a similar predicament, doesn’t end up taking it as “well” as Dennis, Dennis finds himself navigating the (rather complicated) world of the Whispering Glades, which gives human loved ones their last farewell, which he finds is as concerned with images and appearances as Hollywood i Macabre and funny both at the same time. Dennis Barlow, a British poet who finds himself out of the Hollywood studio that hired him takes up work at Happier Hunting Ground, a cemetery for pets. When a fellow Briton, in a similar predicament, doesn’t end up taking it as “well” as Dennis, Dennis finds himself navigating the (rather complicated) world of the Whispering Glades, which gives human loved ones their last farewell, which he finds is as concerned with images and appearances as Hollywood itself. In this absurd world, he also finds love in the somewhat morbid Aimee Thanatogenous, beautician for the loved ones at Whispering Glades, and has competition in Mr Joyboy the embalmer. The book takes us to not one but perhaps three crazy worlds, that of death and funerals, of Hollywood and its glamour, and of British expats living and working in California. All of them seem ultimately to be concerned with images, appearances, and artifice, what must an actress look like and what would a perfect backstory be (that people would “buy”), what must a loved one look like when he is sent off to the next world (no sign seems to remain sometimes of what they were like in this world), and what the expat must look like to the country he is working in (certain lines of work are a complete no no). In fact, Dennis’ wooing of Aimee is also somewhat on the same lines, he not using his own poetic skills but relying on more popular, “classic” poems instead. very much enjoyed the humour in this satire but this isn’t really the kind of book one could really “love”, is it? Still a very good read.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    Brief, satirical and rather funny novel about the American funeral industry. Waugh visited California in 1947; he didn't like it, finding the tendency of the "lower orders" to ask personal questions rather irritating. Waugh was a snob and it shows. It is funny in parts. The love triangle is very amusing; this isn't the intense YA/vampire type. It involves Aimee Thanatogenos, who works at Whispering Glades, a funeral emporium. She does cosmetic work on the corpses. One of her beaus is the wonderf Brief, satirical and rather funny novel about the American funeral industry. Waugh visited California in 1947; he didn't like it, finding the tendency of the "lower orders" to ask personal questions rather irritating. Waugh was a snob and it shows. It is funny in parts. The love triangle is very amusing; this isn't the intense YA/vampire type. It involves Aimee Thanatogenos, who works at Whispering Glades, a funeral emporium. She does cosmetic work on the corpses. One of her beaus is the wonderfully named Mr Joyboy, a mortician. The other is Dennis Barlow an English "poet" and trickster who works at a crematorium for pets (watch out for the funeral of the parrot). It's all joyfully barmy and Aimee's vacillations are marvellous. The descriptions of the services provided all add to the fun. The satire is directed as much at the British in Hollywood as at the American way of death; all the characters are pretty awful. There were some notes that grated. When asked what Hogmanay was, Dennis replies "People being sick on the pavement in Glasgow". I think Nancy Mitford did the subject more effectively, but Waugh is funny, if flimsy

  15. 5 out of 5

    Antonomasia

    What a peculiar book. I hadn't read an Evelyn Waugh for the first time since I was at school: was his humour usually quite this dark, sick even? Bits of Decline and Fall would have been distinctly dubious these days, I remember thinking, (schoolmasters and schoolboys) but it was par for the course of class and time etc, rather than bizarre (morticians in LA isn't usual Waugh-world). Though in my late teens the delicacy of my reading sensibilities was at an all-time low, so perhaps I missed thing What a peculiar book. I hadn't read an Evelyn Waugh for the first time since I was at school: was his humour usually quite this dark, sick even? Bits of Decline and Fall would have been distinctly dubious these days, I remember thinking, (schoolmasters and schoolboys) but it was par for the course of class and time etc, rather than bizarre (morticians in LA isn't usual Waugh-world). Though in my late teens the delicacy of my reading sensibilities was at an all-time low, so perhaps I missed things before. Anyway, I found a lot of The Loved One very funny, including at least one comment which another GR reviewer objected to. The ridiculousness of the names tops his other work too: Aimee Thanatogenos, Mr Joyboy - and these people are as weird as they sound. Those who might be upset by the mere idea of callousness or poor practice at pet crematoria probably shouldn't read this. (Really, I do know what it's like to be very upset by the death of a pet, and I wouldn't conscion simply binning a deceased animal, but I've always found the idea of pet undertakers quite absurd. A fine way to satirize the fixed-grin plastic decadence of nearly-1950s America.) Nor should those who might mind characters' blase attitude and one-liners about other characters' deaths, including those self-inflicted. We shouldn't think too ill of them, after all, they have been hardened by recent service in the war: Others in gentler ages had had their lives changed by such a revelation; to Dennis it was the kind of thing he expected in the world he knew. There's undoubtedly something here about the demise of the Empire, and it's very amusing to see tweedy old colonial gentlemen talking about the U.S. (and the standards expected of Brits out here) much as they would about India in other books. Most characters were sympathetic some of the time, and not at all at others, and needless to say, everyone is skewered at some point. Even the sort of character one absently thinks of as his own kind: Sir Ambrose Abercrombie wore tweeds, cape and deerstalker cap, the costume in which he had portrayed many travesties of English rural life. I particularly liked the way he makes embalmers and corpse-beauticians creepy; that whole related business of ceremonially viewing corpses is so undignified and medieval. I considered docking half a star for a plot device copied from a very well-known source (there's also a rather less-hackneyed reference to Nathanael West's Miss Lonelyhearts), and the ending was a tad unsatisfying* and may or may not veer off the trajectory of the rest of the book. But I was so pleased with the weirdness of it all - weird in a way I'd never expected from Waugh, and very welcome after becoming exasperated with serious realist fiction in general - that I haven't. * (view spoiler)[Aimee's death seems rather out of character, even if it does fit her name. She was so calmly calculating and determined to get ahead. She could have, say, climbed out of a ground floor window, to chime with a satirical theme of "these idiots do anything the press tells them to" - and that's literally closer to Slump's advice. But then I'm not sure what I'd have done to end the story. Maybe she could have gone back East after faking her death? (hide spoiler)]

  16. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    The last couple of pages of this book made me chuckle. It's not everyday that you read a book about a cosmetician for the dead, an embalmer, and a pet cemetery employee with a poetic bent. The Hollywood Forever cemetery holds new meaning for me now.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    I haven't been to a library for eight weeks, undoubtedly the longest period since I learned to read. Not to sound antisocial, but I miss seeing books face-to-face more than seeing people face-to-face. While I can video call my loved ones, there is no webcam that lets me check on the library books! I hope they're doing OK. Anyway, a couple of lovely friends basically let me browse their bookshelves like a library via video call, then we had a carefully distanced outdoor exchange of items. I swapp I haven't been to a library for eight weeks, undoubtedly the longest period since I learned to read. Not to sound antisocial, but I miss seeing books face-to-face more than seeing people face-to-face. While I can video call my loved ones, there is no webcam that lets me check on the library books! I hope they're doing OK. Anyway, a couple of lovely friends basically let me browse their bookshelves like a library via video call, then we had a carefully distanced outdoor exchange of items. I swapped flour and yeast (which I'm clearly not going to use) plus Gideon the Ninth for seven books, two face masks, and some bananas. This is one of those library-of-friendship books, an acerbic novella that Evelyn Waugh wrote after visiting America. It seems not unreasonable to infer that he didn't like what he saw of it. The tone of the writing is arch and satirical, the settings two funeral parlours. One is for pets, the other for people. The two main characters each work in one of these establishments, in Los Angeles. Waugh displays a distinct lack of sympathy for his characters, which somehow feels sharper than the distant observation of Muriel Spark. I found the dialogue in 'The Loved One' very funny, especially the darkly hilarious corporate patter used by Whispering Glades employees. Upon arrival at the funeral parlour, it begins like this, "Can I help you in any way?" "I came to arrange about a funeral." "Is it for yourself?" "Certainly not. Do I look so moribund?" "Pardon me?" "Do I look as if I were about to die?" "Why, no. Only many of our friends like to make Before Needs Arrangements. Will you come this way?" The detailed portrait of an establishment that attempts to extract as much profit as possible from death is a very witty and apt one. The characters, however, exhibit an unsettling level of cruelty. There are two suicides in the book's 144 pages, both provoked by the behaviour of others. I would therefore not characterise this as very suitable lockdown reading, given it is pessimistic to the point of nihilism in places. As a social satire it works so well that LA is left with some pretty savage wounds. While I enjoyed the style, witty byplay, and imagery, it left me feeling sad. 'The Loved One' was published in 1948 and seems to depict a society numbed to the impact of death by the horrors of the Second World War. I also felt that the name Aimée Thanatogenos was a little too on the nose.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    They are a very decent generous lot of people out here and they don't expect you to listen. Always remember that, dear boy. It's the secret of social ease in this country. They talk entirely for their own pleasure. Nothing they say is designed to be heard. After dishing out this critique of American society, self-appointed leader of the British ex-pat community Sir Ambrose Abercrombie continues his discussion with Sir Francis Hinsley, neither, of course, listening to the other. On the receiving e They are a very decent generous lot of people out here and they don't expect you to listen. Always remember that, dear boy. It's the secret of social ease in this country. They talk entirely for their own pleasure. Nothing they say is designed to be heard. After dishing out this critique of American society, self-appointed leader of the British ex-pat community Sir Ambrose Abercrombie continues his discussion with Sir Francis Hinsley, neither, of course, listening to the other. On the receiving end of this advice, and the specific reason for Ambrose's visit, is Dennis Barlow, sometime poet and pet cremator at Happier Hunting Grounds, who is in danger of becoming persona non grata for letting the side down- that job is just not what the British should be doing old boy, we have a reputation to uphold, don't you know etc etc. Waugh has crafted such a gorgeous opening scene, full of dark comedy and scathing commentary, with this concept of British identity exaggerated to the level of the ridiculous. And if you think British snobbery is in for a bashing, the Americans are primed for an even more withering attack. Here Waugh chooses Hollywood and the funeral industry, both determined to put on the best production, both machines of fakery and dazzlement. The primary focus is Whispering Grounds funeral home, full of the hushed reverence and blind devotion more like a cult than anything else. The language is scripted and jargonistic: the founder is the Dreamer, the dead are Loved Ones, and the family/friends, Waiting Ones. You can even organise your own perfect death pantomime with the Before Need Provision Arrangements, so that your fear of death doesn't overwhelm you into letting your 'vital energy lag prematurely'. Even to modern sensibilities this is risible. This faux spirituality is underlined when instead of writing to an old-fashioned agony aunt, the young lady in need of help appeals to Guru Brahmin. It's cruel and clever and funny, a brilliant piece of satire. Though published in 1948, the book still feels contemporary. Certainly much of the mocking criticism of Hollywood and the funeral industry is now appropriate for an even wider application in modern society: what is there left that isn't all about the show? And this Scottish joke hasn't aged at all... What is a 'canty day', Dennis? -I've never troubled to ask. Something like a hogmanay I expect. What is that? -People being sick on the pavement in Glasgow. Oh.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Cari

    Waugh has the dry, underhanded wit that I adore, the sly sort of humor that can be easily missed by the distracted or the terminally stupid. And as morbid as it may be, the scene surrounding the preparations for the Loved One's final arrangements had me laughing out loud through the duration, a perfect lampooning of the industry. Brilliant!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    The Loved One: An Anglo-American Tragedy by Evelyn Waugh is in every way a hoot, though somewhat nasty withal. I cannot help but think that Waugh did not think much of Southern California. The nastiness creeps in where the two main Californians, Aimee Thanatogenos and Mr. Joyboy, are concerned. When the latter conspires with Dennis Barlow to have the former, who had committed suicide by swallowing cyanide, to be cremated sub rosa in a pet cemetery. Dennis takes the crown when he arranges to have The Loved One: An Anglo-American Tragedy by Evelyn Waugh is in every way a hoot, though somewhat nasty withal. I cannot help but think that Waugh did not think much of Southern California. The nastiness creeps in where the two main Californians, Aimee Thanatogenos and Mr. Joyboy, are concerned. When the latter conspires with Dennis Barlow to have the former, who had committed suicide by swallowing cyanide, to be cremated sub rosa in a pet cemetery. Dennis takes the crown when he arranges to have the following card sent to the inconsolable Joyboy every year at the anniversary of Aimee's death:"Your little Aimee is wagging her tail in heaven tonight, thinking of you." There is a certain savagery in Waugh's sense of humor, but it makes for an excellent read. I just would never recommend it to my girlfriend, especially if she works at a mortuary. `

  21. 4 out of 5

    Velvetink

    Satire on the funeral business, in which a young British poet goes to work at a Hollywood cemetery. I had seen the 1965 movie of the same name by director Tony Richardson and Richardson seems to have followed the script quite well. The Loved One is full of sly, macabre humour, and some of the funniest scenes occur when Aimee goes home with Mr. Joyboy to meet his mother–a miserable woman whose bosom companion is a naked parrot named Sambo. The Loved One is one of the oddest novels in the English l Satire on the funeral business, in which a young British poet goes to work at a Hollywood cemetery. I had seen the 1965 movie of the same name by director Tony Richardson and Richardson seems to have followed the script quite well. The Loved One is full of sly, macabre humour, and some of the funniest scenes occur when Aimee goes home with Mr. Joyboy to meet his mother–a miserable woman whose bosom companion is a naked parrot named Sambo. The Loved One is one of the oddest novels in the English language, and it’s certainly bizarre that a funeral home is the setting of a comic novel. Waugh–ever known for a biting, wicked sense of humour, exploits the language and internal politics of the funeral industry beautifully and mercilessly. I highly recommend this novel for an odd, distracting read–I doubt you’ll ever forget it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa

    I've only read one Evelyn Waugh book before this one, A Handful of Dust. And what did I think of it? Well honestly, I hated it. However, I couldn't resist picking up this little novel in the library the other day. I was looking for a short, quick read, and the cool Quentin Blake artwork on the front cover and interesting blurb on the back really drew me in. This is an odd little story, about a young English poet and pets' mortician named Dennis Barlow who becomes involved with a not-so-traditiona I've only read one Evelyn Waugh book before this one, A Handful of Dust. And what did I think of it? Well honestly, I hated it. However, I couldn't resist picking up this little novel in the library the other day. I was looking for a short, quick read, and the cool Quentin Blake artwork on the front cover and interesting blurb on the back really drew me in. This is an odd little story, about a young English poet and pets' mortician named Dennis Barlow who becomes involved with a not-so-traditional Californian girl, the corpse beautician Aimée Thanatogenos. She is clueless and romantic, and all she knows is that she is enamoured by Mr Joyboy, the main embalmer in her place of work, Whispering Glades Memorial Park. Did you get all that? Dennis Barlow was quite a boring character if I'm honest. I didn't really have a strong opinion of him at the beginning of the novel, but unfortunately as the novel progressed and he became more involved with Aimée, I grew to dislike him immensely. His behaviour became irrational and pigheaded, and his lack of emotions at the novel's conclusion seemed disappointing and misleading. Mr Joyboy however sparkled on the pages. He was such a quirky character, and so intriguing - I could never fully picture him, but I knew I liked him, and wanted to go into his workshop and see him at work, even if the work he did was somewhat grisly and morbid. Aimée started off as an interesting and self-composed character, but as I was taken into her company more, her behaviour and thought processes began to infuriate me. She came across as clueless and irritating, never being able to make up her own mind about anything, and her values in life seemed very weak. Although the characters were mainly disappointing for me, I really enjoyed this very unusual storyline. The description of Barlow's first visit to Whispering Glades was my absolute favourite point in the novel, and the different processes for people and their "Loved Ones" was endlessly fascinating to me. Although I'm not sure if there are places that go to these lengths to deal with dead bodies and funeral services, I'd love to know more about the processes. I am now less resistant to Waugh's writing, as he really captured my interest and elicited some strong emotions from me in regards to his creation. I plan on reading more Waugh in the future, but if you like his writing and have not heard of this short novel, I would very much recommend it.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Justin Evans

    In which Waugh again proves that the satisfactions of 'realistic' fiction are pretty pale compared to the satisfactions of vicious, spiteful, hate-filled satire. The characters, plot and setting are all paper thin, but that helps the book with its main point, which is to make you laugh out loud and recognize the ugliness, stupidity and vanity of the world in general. There's nothing and nobody redeeming here. The Brits are snobs and/or morons; the Yanks are James-lite innocents with none of the In which Waugh again proves that the satisfactions of 'realistic' fiction are pretty pale compared to the satisfactions of vicious, spiteful, hate-filled satire. The characters, plot and setting are all paper thin, but that helps the book with its main point, which is to make you laugh out loud and recognize the ugliness, stupidity and vanity of the world in general. There's nothing and nobody redeeming here. The Brits are snobs and/or morons; the Yanks are James-lite innocents with none of the charming homeliness of actual innocents in James novels. If nothing else, reading this book will give you this pleasure: next time you hear an American conservative complain about a 'culture of death,' you'll be able to remember 'The Loved One,' smirk, and take pleasure in the fact that a genuine conservative would consider the American conservative to be a repulsive boil on the arse of humankind.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Chloe

    While not my favorite book in the world, I have to say I enjoyed this macabre little satire. Perhaps the somewhat unusual humor appealed to me. I tend to find such things as funeral parlors and crematoriums amusing. I do not, however, find the story to be quite as condescending towards Americans as some people have said it was. The British characters were not especially intelligent, either. In fact, I would say that there are no attractive characters in the story. Which is part of the reason why While not my favorite book in the world, I have to say I enjoyed this macabre little satire. Perhaps the somewhat unusual humor appealed to me. I tend to find such things as funeral parlors and crematoriums amusing. I do not, however, find the story to be quite as condescending towards Americans as some people have said it was. The British characters were not especially intelligent, either. In fact, I would say that there are no attractive characters in the story. Which is part of the reason why the story is so attractive. If you cared about anyone, the ending would leave you with a bitter feeling. As it is, one can laugh at the fate of the loved one. In all, it is an amusing romp into Waugh’s brain, albeit a somewhat demented one. Well, *I* laughed at least…

  25. 4 out of 5

    Toby

    My fourth experience of Waugh and once more I was not disappointed. This fun little novella is filled with Waugh staples; mean Brits abroad and parodies of the natives. Only this time it is a people and a place we have all come to be too familiar with over the last 70 years, Los Angeles, USA. He writes quite beautifully, filling paragraphs with sentences of exquisite composition that always achieve their aim; whether that be to make you laugh, shock or create a credible absurdity in your mind. Th My fourth experience of Waugh and once more I was not disappointed. This fun little novella is filled with Waugh staples; mean Brits abroad and parodies of the natives. Only this time it is a people and a place we have all come to be too familiar with over the last 70 years, Los Angeles, USA. He writes quite beautifully, filling paragraphs with sentences of exquisite composition that always achieve their aim; whether that be to make you laugh, shock or create a credible absurdity in your mind. These characters are not heroes, they are not likable, they are just real people slightly accentuated and as such they are all highly disturbing individuals. If you feel the need to identify with the characters in the books you read then I think you should consider avoiding Evelyn Waugh, you might miss the point of his work entirely. Interestingly I think I enjoyed the movie adaptation more as it heightened the quite surreal elements of this story, managing to become a cross between Waugh and Dr Strangelove and it is in that aspect that I found the novel lacking. The perils of watching the movie before reading the book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Trevor

    There is a film to this, which I haven't seen, but think I would have liked to. This is Waugh's where else but America book. Imagine the sort of book an Englishman would write about living in LA and working in a funeral parlour for animals who fancies a local woman who works in a funeral parlour for people and sends her poetry he has written, just for her - you know - like Shall I compare thee... Yes, the underlying assumption is that the Americans are a bit simple and a bit thick, and the Brits There is a film to this, which I haven't seen, but think I would have liked to. This is Waugh's where else but America book. Imagine the sort of book an Englishman would write about living in LA and working in a funeral parlour for animals who fancies a local woman who works in a funeral parlour for people and sends her poetry he has written, just for her - you know - like Shall I compare thee... Yes, the underlying assumption is that the Americans are a bit simple and a bit thick, and the Brits are sort of the adults in the relationship, but this is fiction and funny right up to the point when you realise actions have consequences that are not always all that amusing. The bodies in the coffins expressing the feelings of the man who prepares them for viewings by the Loved Ones are as good an example of the comic genius that is Evelyn Waugh that I can think of. I'm currently reading his Decline and Fall and loving every word. More on this soon.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Bfisher

    I read this 50 years ago, and thought that it was fairly funny then. On a re-read, I think that it is brilliant satire, of a very dark and bitter kind. Waugh's prose is superb.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Joshie

    Death has never been this delighted with such saccharine morbidity. Waugh's tragicomic The Loved One dips in little funny musings that don't always land then halfway through makes a 360-degree turn with its mishaps. Set in 1940s Hollywood, Los Angeles, it tells the story of British "poet" hired-then-fired film scriptwriter, duplicitous Mr. Barlow who took a job in the Happier Hunting Ground, a pet cemetery that offers unusual funeral services, thereby being an embarrassment to the Hollywood Brit Death has never been this delighted with such saccharine morbidity. Waugh's tragicomic The Loved One dips in little funny musings that don't always land then halfway through makes a 360-degree turn with its mishaps. Set in 1940s Hollywood, Los Angeles, it tells the story of British "poet" hired-then-fired film scriptwriter, duplicitous Mr. Barlow who took a job in the Happier Hunting Ground, a pet cemetery that offers unusual funeral services, thereby being an embarrassment to the Hollywood British enclave. Opposite the Happier Hunting Ground is the lavish and mawkish funeral service provider for humans called the Whispering Glades where Mr. Barlow encounters both its senior and awkward mortician Mr. Joyboy and the cosmetician Miss Thanatogenos after a life-changing event that concerns Barlow's flatmate Hollywood scriptwriter Hinsley. There is tacit rivalry between these two funeral businesses that they deride and insult each other for what they reductively do. One can't help but think of the real value of losing an animal versus a person which I personally think is, of course, subjective to a pet / human's impact on someone. Not only is this a satirical novel about Hollywood but also a superficial look at its stifling and unfair culture that makes and drives the people in its own community bad and mad. Also worth noting that there is a paragraph in the book about (the now debunked belief) how cigarettes help with lung problems ("The cigarettes Mr. Slump smoked were prepared by the doctors, so the advertisements declared, with the sole purpose of protecting the respiratory system" p93). Although I would have appreciated it better if Waugh focused more on these issues instead of resorting to a problematic and strange love triangle I guess this is a little story of how we give more importance to a person's death than the life they lived that their death seems to be the sole definition of their existence. How that John Lennon song rings very true: "Everybody loves you when you're six foot in the ground." I can't say The Loved One did not make me laugh because it did and near its end it is aptly disturbing and devastating.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Viji (Bookish endeavors)

    Background Evelyn Waugh got inspiration for this story when he visited Forest Lawn cemetery in the Hollywood during his visit to the U.S. to discuss the making of his bestseller 'Brideshead revisited' into a movie. He was,in his own words,obsessed with the cemetery and planned to write a long short story about it. At the Forest Lawn,cadavers were referred to as 'the loved ones' and that seems to be the inspiration for the title. There is also another interpretation that 'Aimee' translates into 'l Background Evelyn Waugh got inspiration for this story when he visited Forest Lawn cemetery in the Hollywood during his visit to the U.S. to discuss the making of his bestseller 'Brideshead revisited' into a movie. He was,in his own words,obsessed with the cemetery and planned to write a long short story about it. At the Forest Lawn,cadavers were referred to as 'the loved ones' and that seems to be the inspiration for the title. There is also another interpretation that 'Aimee' translates into 'loved one' in old French. My take of the book.. This is my first reading of Evelyn Waugh. When I read this name for the first time,and that was quite some time back,I was under the impression that this is a female author. Not that it matters much to me,but that was what I was thinking. Only recently did I realize that it was a 'he' and not a 'she'. This is not the first time I'm treated to such a shock but I admit that it's not something that happens usually. So thanks for that tap on my head,Evelyn.. :) The title had made me think that this was a work of romance. And I was looking for the boy and the girl when I started reading it. And you can imagine my surprise at finding who 'the loved one' was. Well.. That sums up the presuppositions I had and where those thoughts took me. The book is a satire on many things-religion,newspapers,marriage,funeral practices etc. When the book was made into a movie,the tag line was 'a motion picture with something to offend everyone.' Well.. That was in 1965. The times we live in doesn't take 'offending' so easily. Especially so if they are done in books or movies or newspapers. One should try offending only at the risk of sacrificing one's own life,and that of the people who cooperate with him in the process. 'Right to offend' is gradually disappearing from our society. And that's not a good thing at all. Because obedience never(well,almost) brings out genuine inventions. We progress through chaos. We progress through going against the normality. The process described in this book,it's quite foreign to me as I know only about death and burial or incineration but not the process in between. The only processes I've read of was through Dr.Scarpetta but that is of a different sort. I do not know if these processes are done to make the soul feel good in the other world or to make the left behind feel comfortable in this world. I'm inclined to go with the second. We need all these adornments for the dead to minimize the affect it will have on us. We need it to minimize our pain. To bid farewell where it hasn't been done. To apologize where it's left to be done. To assure ourselves that death isn't ugly after all. To pretend to ourselves that the world won't see us without the mask we wear daily. It's we who need things,not the dead. I'll keep mum on the 'love' angle of the story because I'm doubtful as to whether it can be called love. Great guys those two..!! And then there is the 'guru brahmin'. We see this sort on a daily basis these days. I get two or three notifications daily saying this or that person has key to my future and whether I'd like to know that. In the past it was feared that people will start moving away from God and religion the more civilized they become. But these days the exact opposite is happening,I guess. The story was thoroughly entertaining and gave me more than a few hearty-laugh-moments.

  30. 5 out of 5

    James

    This is a firecracker of a novella. Satirical sparks fly from the get-go, lighting up the social and cultural pretensions of all involved: Brits and Yanks. This is NOT just a piece of still-colonial, British transatlantic snobbery. The Brits here are as loathsome, self serving and corruptible and corrupting as the Americans. If anything, you suspect Waugh loathes them more: they knowingly sacrifice their personal talents and culture to serve 'cod art' - aka Hollywood. After all, the most cynical This is a firecracker of a novella. Satirical sparks fly from the get-go, lighting up the social and cultural pretensions of all involved: Brits and Yanks. This is NOT just a piece of still-colonial, British transatlantic snobbery. The Brits here are as loathsome, self serving and corruptible and corrupting as the Americans. If anything, you suspect Waugh loathes them more: they knowingly sacrifice their personal talents and culture to serve 'cod art' - aka Hollywood. After all, the most cynical person in the novella is the protagonist. But don't let the rapid fire dialogue and laugh out loud moments betray the fact that Waugh is trying to say something serious. Behind the ravaging of social pretension, this story is about Art and Culture getting twisted and contorted by capitalism: the human impulse to honour 'Loved Ones' is transformed into a process in which silver tongued salespeople 'supersize' the bereaved to buy ever more expensive caskets and ceremonies. The Loved One is about how Art gets used as a weapon by people at the Studios or the crematoriums to sell dreams. The irony that most of the people running the show in the book (film producers, crematorium bosses) don't know their Aristophanes from their Elbows makes the comedy sharper but the impact on the characters and Society is tragic. The person who suffers most is Aimme. She falls for both men because of their 'artistry'. Unfortunately, they are both frauds and flawed. She's suckered by their ability to manipulate Art to win her affections. She can't tell the difference between art and plagarism and pretension. (Or she is suckered by her own artistic pretensions?) Either way, she pays a big price for her lack of critical judgement. Trying to draw a distinction between high and low culture would be laughed at now, by many. What's wrong with mashing up old culture with new? What's wrong with putting a smile on a dead man's face if it makes his bereaving family feel better? Who cares if you pretend to your lover that the poem you've written for her is yours, when it isn't? Well, I think Waugh's point is that there is a difference between between art and artifice. Truth and lies. There is a difference between sustaining cultures and poisonuous ones and that not knowing the difference is not just laughable, but deadly dangerous. This book has weaknesses which stop it being great. The plot becomes a little too implausible, the characters aren't deeply painted and some of the dialogue is a bit dated. But Waugh is the father of much that is good in the Modern english satirical novel and for anyone interested in that or an insight into the damage which commercial culture can do to people and places, this is a very, very good read.

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