Brian Glanville Essay - Critical Essays

Glanville, Brian

Glanville, Brian 1931–

Glanville is a British novelist and short story writer, an author of books on sports, and a sportswriter for the London Sunday Times. His script for a BBC television documentary won first prize at the Berlin Film Festival. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 5-8, rev. ed.)

Brian Glanville is an outrageously prolific young British writer who somehow manages to maintain a high level of intelligence in the realms of crisp prose he churns out. He writes about soccer for the English and American press; he writes film scripts; he writes short stories and novels, of which Money Is Love is the thirteenth. The Olympian remains his best novel—it is that rare sports novel which transcends the limitations of its subject—but this new one is a funny and perceptive piece of work….

If Glanville has some serious things to say, at heart Money Is Love is a satire and an entertainment. The novel takes deft pokes at everything from Wall Street to orthodox Judaism to Love Generation commercialism to Texas oil millionaires to unrepentant Nazis to the Roman Catholic Church.

Money Is Love is an insouciant, impertinent novel that turns a knowing eye on the various frauds to which we daily acquiesce. But if its view is primarily cynical, there is also an affectionate appreciation of human aspirations and frustrations that gives depth to its satire. "Creative Capitalism," like most visionary fads and fancies, is a chimera; but the yearnings it touches are very real.

Jonathan Yardley, "There's Life in the Old Novel House," in Book World-The Washington Post (© The Washington Post), November 26, 1972, p. 9.

The Glanville territory is familiar … football, Italy, anti-Semitism—but on all three pitches one can be sure of a good lively game. [In The Thing He Loves] the players are not so much stars as the various has-beens, hangers-on, and peripheral—so often more interesting—figures involved in the football scene; the city boy who, blamelessly, runs over his local idol and learns painfully how inarticulate grief can be softened by sharing the memory; the sacked manager, suddenly desperate for a friendly chat with the bloke he used to bully. Brian Glanville has always been a skilful literary ventriloquist, and all these stories have the assumed voice of the narrator's emotional involvement….

The longest and perhaps the best stories, however, focus on an Italian scene, less familiar; political and geographical details display Mr Glanville's journalistic home ground, the mood is luridly Latin: an elderly expatriate artist whose girl-fantasy comes true, an unrepentant old fascist, now morose and reproachful, heading for pointless martyrdom. Solid, and convincingly part of a world where intensity lies in every emphatic phrase, where rows are sputtering and outrage apparent, these are stories where the rapid-fire colloquialism of Mr Glanville's style shows at its best. (p. 1045)

The Times Literary Supplement (© Times Newspapers Ltd., 1973; reproduced from The Times Literary Supplement by permission), September 14, 1973.

Brian Glanville's The Comic takes [an] apocalyptic view of comedy—he's less than subtle about the relationship of comedian to artist (which phases out artiste pretty early on). The point is that stand-up comedians are priestly artist-figures, representatives of creativity, anarchy, rebellion and pain. Unfortunately, all of this is put down in front of the reader like a bleeding steak, and you either swallow it or you don't. Because of the terrible jokes Glanville ascribes to Johnny Lucas, his protagonist, I found it a difficult notion to accept. Lucas has come back from alcoholic ruin to play the Fool in Lear, and in the last chapter realises that comics really are guilty Messiahs—Messiahs of shame. It seems too intellectual for Lucas, and also for the chapter, which is skilfully emotional. But huge, controlling insights usually make unsatisfactory endings for novels. (p. 795)

Peter Straub, in New Statesman (© 1974 The Statesman & Nation Publishing Co. Ltd.), November 29, 1974.