The first of a series of four novels written within a 20 year span in which a kind of literary alter ego for Anthony Burgess takes center stage. Enderby is a middle-aged poet, a consummate bachelor who lives with his stepmother, and composes his poetry (which is published to derision and mockery) on the toilet. When his stepmother dies, he is sent on a spiral where at one point he ends up very drunk in a bar adlibbing poetry to a woman whose husband would prefer he not do so. After while this initial and accidental flirtation leads to Enderby getting married where he has to learn how to or more so if he can share his life with another. It turns out that a stepmother who stays with you out of a sense of duty to your long dead father, and who waited on the two of you and then hand and foot, is not an easily replicable model for a marriage.
A few things stand out especially in this novel. One, I wonder who the first author was to create a writer figure to stand in for themselves (even if distorted or exaggerated) in novel form. In the 20th century, there are many — from Nathan Zuckerman and David Kepesh for Philip Roth, to Henry Bech for John Updike, Rilke created Malte Laurids Brigge, Hamsum wrote Hunger, Proust created Proust, and Cervantes created Cervantes. So this is a long tradition to say the least.
Two, Bodies! This book is narrated in part with farts and burps.
Three, poems! I remain 100% incapable of telling if fabricated verse is any good.