Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Gossip, Girls and Sugar Lumps

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Gossip, Girls and Sugar Lumps

Article excerpt

Fulfilment and Betrayal 1975-1995 by Naim Attallah (Quartet, [pounds sterling]25) NAIM Attallah has two responses to critics he either sues them or invites them to lunch. So reveals a friend in this book. I am honoured that he sued me first and then took me out to lunch. To his detractors Attallah is an Arab propagandist and a pornographer whom Private Eye dubbed Naim Utterly-Disgusting. To his friends he is the flamboyant Palestinian publisher who whirls round town in different-colour socks; a Maecenas of the arts who founded the Women's Press and once bankrolled the Oldie and the Literary Review. Auberon Waugh said he was "very good at balancing lumps of sugar on his nose".

Whatever you think of the man you have to admire his brazen selfconfidence.

This book is 796 pages long and has a grandiose title which even Conrad Black might baulk at using.

Would anyone apart from Quartet (owner: N Attallah) have published it? Yes, but surely not at such length. The index alone runs to 30 pages. The sugar lumps are not to be found on his nose but diffused through the text.

Baroness Andrea von Stumm is "considered by many connoisseurs of women to be the most beautiful on the international circuit".

Attallah's first volume of memoir was written as fiction, his second volume was written in the third person. Here at last we have Naim in his own voice: "I become myself, as it were writing as 'I' because no other narrative device could give events the same degree of authenticity." Authenticity is of paramount concern to Attallah ever since his former assistant Jennie Erdal claimed to have ghost-written his books.

It is brave of Attallah to take full credit for this work (his editor gets an honourable mention). It is an extraordinary hotchpotch of a book.

Everything is bunged into the mix press releases, press cuttings, book reviews, poems, company circulars and so on. …

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