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Anthony Burgess: Enderby Outside [US: Enderby]

The second in a series often does not work but, in this case, it definitely does as this book is far more fun than its predecessor. We start more or less where we left off in Inside Mr. Enderby with one of Burgess’ favourite themes – the artist as outcast, the artist as victim, the artist with a disease that must be cured. Enderby has now become Hogg and works as a barman in mildly fancy London hotel,”cured” of his poetry writing. He has to work at a reception for Todd Crewsy, lead singer of The Crewsy Fixers (geddit? Don’t worry if you don’t because Burgess explains his feeble joke.) The band is very successful – so successful that the Prime Minister is present at this reception. Crewsy is to read from his recently published book of poems. The Crewsy Fixers are managed by the husband of Enderby’s ex-wife. When Crewsy starts reading his poems, Enderby realizes that they are his. Before he has time to react, Crewsy is shot by Jed Foot, the Pete Best of the story who hands the gun to Enderby, who takes it without thinking and is, of course, accused of shooting Crewsy.

This is when the fun starts for Enderby manages to escape and get away with an air cruise to Morocco where a tricky encounter with a single woman and various hilarious mishaps add to the fun. However, Enderby has one aim in life before being hauled off to prison and that is to kill Rawcliffe, the failed poet who stole Enderby’s poem and made it into a (financially) successful film. However, when he finally meets up with Rawcliffe, who now owns a bar in Morocco, Rawcliffe is dying of cancer and Enderby helps him to die (and inherits the bar and Rawcliffe’s stash of money.)

It’s all great fun as Enderby skilfully digs himself in deeper and then, somehow, manages to dig himself out. There is a serious side as Enderby gets his poetic gift back and writes what seems to me to be pretty crummy poetry but which receives some acclaim. Of course, as we are in Morocco, the gay scene is explored, even though Enderby holds out for some form of heterosexuality. And, at the end, Burgess leaves everything wide open for another in the series.

Publishing history

First published 1968 by Heinemann