4 NOVEMBER 1972, Page 17

Waugh bash

Sir: Much as I enjoy Auberon Waugh's reviews, I cannot escape the impression that his criticism of Come Like Shadows (October 28) is a trifle partisan.

Passing over the gentlemanly or other qualities of provincial barflies, his delicacy with regard to Fielding Gray's creaming his jeans (as Barry McKenzie would have it), and subsequent grave-side erection, strikes me as somewhat incongruous beside his review last summer of Angela Carter's The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman. This delightful tale, for which your reviewer had nothing_ but praise, and which received one of his insubstantial gold medals, contains, among numerous scarcely less lurid events, two mass-rapes (one sodomite, one bestial), a visit to a brothel of lavish and sumptuous variety, a farting competition, and the unusual sexual misdemeanour of seducing the grandmother of one's betrothed.

Not only did Mr Waugh turn neither hide nor hair at this picaresque fantasy, he made no mention either of Miss Carter's habit of using ' diminutive ' as if it were synonymous with ' tiny '; a solecism which I suspect he would never tolerate in an alumnus of Charterhouse, even one who was more often found in the company of Peter May than William ReesMogg. He made no mention either of the authoress's photograph on the inside sleeve of the book, though it discloses as wholesome an English Rose as ever graced the pages of Country Life.

Can it be that indulgence towards nice young ladies is one of the gentlemanly characteristics so conspicuously missing in Simon's Raven's characters?

C. N. Gilmore 197 Woodstock Road, Oxford