A. Burgess and me agree that all art should aspire to the condition of music (we paraphraseth Walt Pater), both for the harmony of form and content, and the visceral impact music has on a listener’s nerve-endings, always stronger than responses to books or paintings or YooToob kittehs. More than any other novelist, Ant Burg spent his life inventing musical forms to contain his explosive, spontaneous creativity, whether in the musical play Blooms of Dublin, the orchestral novel Napoleon’s Symphony, or this swansong Byrne, a novel in verse. (He also recorded a musical version of A Clockwork Orange—don’t ask). Most critics and wine-swiggers are unanimous in their opinion that Anto Burge failed to musicalise the novel and create anything particularly innovative in the novel form (in terms of long-term usability), leaving behind a canon of daring experiments (i.e. failures) and almost masterpieces (i.e. not masterpieces). This novel in verse (in Byronian ottava rima stanzas) is full of the bawdiness of Chaucer and Rabelais, and far from revolutionising anything simply shines as another wacky entry in an eccentric and loopy bibliography of one the smartest, comb-fearing bruisers of 20thC lit. And for me, that’s enough.