James Lasdun is my favourite ‘should be famous’ writer, his work extraordinarily taut and compelling. His eye-boggling psychological thrillers are understated, yet perspicacious and hilarious... Lasdun expertly demonstrates how inner moral structure is often built on the scaffolding of tenuous and arbitrary rules and self-justification... The narrator expresses my own feelings when he says that fictional depictions of this dilemma aren’t interesting... And yet this story is enthralling. The conversations and events ring true; the characters are believable.
The unsavoury behaviour of men reverberates through Lasdun’s Victory, which comprises two mesmeric, stand-alone stories. In Feathered Glory, the quiet and contented family life of Richard, an elementary school principal in upstate New York, is disrupted by the reappearance of a former lover...
These are impressive stories, containing beautiful descriptions and subtle twists.
In an age of loud invective and binary solutions, there is something wonderful about Lasdun’s scrupulous recording of doubts and uncertainty. I like his unapologetic literariness and the unexpected way his books draw strength from artefacts of high culture. In Give Me Everything You Have, the Middle English poem “Gawain and the Green Knight” became a tool for thinking about the obligations of male decency. In a similar way, the Mallarmé poem from which Lasdun borrows the title of the novella is used to evokes contradictory facets of male sexuality.