Any Human Heart
- Reviewed by Will Berriman
- Published on May 23rd, 2011 at 9:00a.m.
- Updated on May 23rd, 2011 at 6:28p.m.
Every life is both ordinary and extraordinary. The profound simplicity of this statement disguises the complexity, intellect and true beauty of William Boyd’s ‘Any Human Heart’.
Boyd’s novel, or ‘The Intimate Journals of Logan Mountstuart’ has it formally introduces itself quickly dispenses with any formality. This is not the collection of journal entries by a nostalgic old man, instead these extremely intimate journal entries take you upon a journey through the 20th century and through the heart of a very personal life. We rejoices at Logan’s success and despair at his tragedies, but ultimately it is a story about life and living, a story nobody can escape.
Logan’s life is set against the mantra that every life holds its share of both good and bad luck, and without reservation Boyd places a fair share of both on Logan path. The story is constructed around a series of disjointed journals, such as ‘The New York Journal’, ‘The Post-War Journal’. The web Boyd weaves allows the reader to become entwined in a world of a man musing over his day-to-day encounters and choices. Departing from his youthful school days to his old age, the scope of places Logan travel to and the array of notable people he meets, Hemingway, Picasso, Duke of Winsor, for example are breath taking. Yet these marking posts of cultural history are punctuated by Logan’s sincere humanity. Through his aspirations to become a successful writer, alongside his misadventures during the Second World War and post-war troubles in New York Logan becomes an ever more enchanting, and human, protagonist. However, Logan journey is not alone. Boyd provides numerous life long friends, lovers and children who Logan’s relationships with further colours the novel and allows for the read to reflect their own experiences into Logan journey.
This book is deeply emotive and highly recommended. As the novel draws to an end with Logan life reaching it natural conclusion you are initially saddened by the loss of a now close friend. Yet with consideration the scope of Boyd’s work draws out the desire for living and musing over its irrational complexity, a story which reflects in any human heart.
Any Human Heart by William Boyd 503pp, Penguin books, 2003