14 Oct 2013

STUART: A LIFE BACKWARDS.

STUART: A LIFE BACKWARDS by ALEXANDER MASTERS.

 SOURCE: A 2011 WORLD BOOK NIGHT giveaway, I received this from a friend.

This is the story of Stuart Shorter: thief, hostage-taker, psycho and street raconteur. It is a story told backwards, as he wanted, from the man he was when Alexander Masters met him to a 'happy-go-lucky little boy of twelve.
...... Inner back cover.

FIRST SENTENCE (Chapter 0): Stuart does not like the manuscript.

MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 44)
: Long periods of quiet are followed by short tempests of violence in which it seems people are 'kicking off' on every wing and the housing officers rush from one incident to the next, clatter along the corridors with fingers on walkie-talkie buttons wondering if the full moon has snagged on nearby traffic lights.

MY THOUGHTS: The winner of the Guardian newspaper's First Book Award in 2005. Quite why I'm not sure.

OK, so largely written in reverse (I say largely because the narrative does tend to jump around quite a lot) the journey of the adult Stuart to the pre-teen Stuart is arguably rather quirky though on the whole I found it confusing, disjointed and generally poorly written. And as for it being humorous? Though not without its ironic moments, I'm afraid I don't find anything funny about homelessness, alcoholism and drug addiction.

As for the 'characters'?

Described as a 'polydrug-addicted, alcoholic, 'Jekyll and Hyde' personality with delusional paranoia and a fondness for what he called 'little strips of silver' - knives to you and me', Stuart is hardly the most lovable of character and whilst I never did feel any real warmth towards him - in fact the further the book went on and the younger Stuart became the less I liked him - I did at least gain some understanding.

Whether taken as the memoir of a habitual substance abusing criminal with seemingly scant regard for others or a social commentary on the ills of society (or indeed something else all together) this is a harrowing, one might even say deeply disturbing, book.




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9 comments:

Kelly said...

This sounds like it would be quite confusing, and frankly not worth the trouble to read.

I always appreciate your honest reviews.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

I think I actually own this...
Doesn't sound like it worked well. Sorry!

Yvonne@fiction-books said...

Hi Tracy,

Wow! I thought that WBN was to encourage people who don't read regularly, so I am not sure that this is really the most appropriate book to start someone off with!

The concept of writing a story backwards sounds like quite a quirky concept, however given the serious nature of the storyline and the obviously slightly dysfunctional main protagonist, I am not so sure that it was the right approach to take.

The son of two authors, Alexander sounds like quite a quirky character himself. I'm not sure I even understand the concept he is evolving for his new book and I doubt that I shall be reading either it, or 'Stuart' anytime soon.

Thanks for your honest review and sticking with the story until the end!

Have a great week,

Yvonne

Suko said...

Tracy, thanks for your your honest review. It doesn't sound like a book I'd enjoy.

Brian Joseph said...

I often like dark stories if told artistically. I am also OK if it is told satirically. However, such a narrative is very easy to botch, which based upon your review seems to have happened here. Among other flaws sometimes authors try to be too clever when they jumble time and events.

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

I think the jumping around would bother me too much. Looks like you didn't love it either. Great review though!

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Stephanie@Fairday's Blog said...

I have never heard of this one before, but after reading your review it doesn't sound like it is for me. At first I thought it might be great because it sounded so unique. But- your review said a lot. :)

Thanks for sharing!

Naida said...

Thanks for the honest review. It does sound like it's disturbing at times.