1. Any Human Heart, William Boyd
“It's true: lives do drift apart for no obvious reason. We're all busy people,we can't spend our time simply trying to stay in touch. The test of a friendship is if it can weather these inevitable gaps.” -- Any Human Heart
“Never say you know the last word about any human heart.” -- Henry James, Louisa Pallant
The protagonist of this magnificent, highly-readable novel, Logan Mountstuart (1906-1991), is a writer, a spy, the manager of an art gallery, and a teacher. The story follows him through much of his checkered, fascinating, intense and ultimately meaningless life, a life like many of us live, only we're usually not spies, accomplished writers, friends of Ian Fleming, thrice married, veterans of years in solitary confinement, and so on. What I admire about Boyd is that he gives us the whole man, lets us get to know him, decide for ourselves, add up his life next to our own. For Boyd (as Robbe-Grillet said of film) his works are always a multi-coded space. It's up to us to break the code; he helps by making signals through the glass.