Books of the year 2010 | Jonathan Coe

Self-Portraits: Fictions by Frederic Tuten


Britain remains resistant to literary modernism, despite the little bubble of media interest that blew up around the subject this year. If this were not the case, surely Frederic Tuten would be better known over here. His new collection, Self-Portraits: Fictions (W W Norton, $23.95), is available only in America at the moment, but is well worth tracking down. Tuten spins witty, often erotic, slightly surreal narratives around the themes that have preoccupied him throughout his career: love, memory, the relationships between America and Europe and between the visual arts and the written word. The aesthetic behind these stories is challenging, but their surface is limpid and warmly inviting. And like all the best writers - modernist or conventional - Tuten is first and foremost a pleasure to read.

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This article first appeared in the 22 November 2010 issue of the New Statesman, Advantage Cameron