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'No higher pleasure'

5 July 2004

'A novel or biography can do two things a stage or screen director cannot. It can offer us descriptive prose of a higher and more reflective sort than can be inserted into realistic dialogue: a kind of poetry-in-prose. And its author can tap the reader on the shoulder, take us aside and share with us his or her own thoughts about the meaning of what is taking place. For the serious reader of English literature, I believe there is no higher pleasure: a pleasure...which only a book can give.'

Matthew Parris