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Dangerous ideals

Andrew O'Hagan's fictional account of a wayward and dysfunctional priest is most striking for its discussion of the importance, and trap, of idealism

By Julian Evans   October 2006

Be Near Me by Andrew O’Hagan (Faber & Faber, £16.99)

Self-confidence gives way to the pathos of downfall so suddenly, and when it does it is the invulnerably confident who are the most shaken. Why? Because confidence isn’t an unbroken series of careless, high-bouncing gestures. It is, rather, a style that starts in childhood and steadily reinforces itself over a whole life. And in the same way, its undoing, however sudden, has almost certainly been germinating for decades. The form of the novel is well suited, with its forgiving kindnesses of nuance and point of view and its promiscuous embrace…

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