A unique biography of a homeless man and a complete portrait of the hidden underclass. ‘So here it is, my attempt at the story of Stuart Shorter, thief, hostage taker, psycho and sociopath street raconteur, my spy on how the British chaotic underclass spend their troubled days at the beginning of this century: a man with an important life. I wish I could have presented it to Stuart before he stepped in front of the 11.15 train from London to Kings Lynn.’
Stuart Shorter’s brief life was one of turmoil and chaos. In this remarkable book, a masterful act of biographical restoration, Alexander Masters retraces Stuart’s troubled journey. Stuart was homeless, with many of the problems this sub-section of English society display: alcoholism, drug-addiction, crime, violence. Scattered with glimpses of the author’s friendship with Stuart in the years before his death, Masters gives us Stuart’s life in reverse, tracing his route backwards through the post-office heists and attempts at suicide and the spells inside many of this country’s prisons, on back to a troubled time at school and learning difficulties and a violent childhood that acted like a springboard into the trouble that was to follow him all his life.
This extraordinary book is a glimpse at the underbelly of English society, a world largely hidden from our lives. Funny, despairing, uplifting, brilliantly-written, it is one of the most original biographies of recent years.
©2012 Alexander Masters (P)2012 HarperCollins Publishers Limited
"It will surely prove to be the debut of the year." (Andrew O'Hagan, Telegraph)
"I feel so strongly about this strange, funny, sad book that I hardly know where to begin.… My enthusiasm feels almost limitless. A page-turner…. the structure of Stuart is a masterstroke, allowing buried secrets to be uncovered like hunks of beef beneath silver domes." (Observer)
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"An actual "must read". Surprisingly funny."
Brilliantly written, brilliantly narrated, heartbreaking, heartwarming.
"Stuart: A Life Backwards" tells one of the hundreds of thousands of untold stories of the discarded, disregarded, and forgotten of our society.
Alexander is the perfect author for this story - though he met Stuart through his work with a charity for the homeless, he is not a "bleeding heart liberal" who wants to pull you in to outraged action by tugging on your heart strings and screaming about the unfairness and injustice. He tells the story as calmly and rationally as Stuart's chaos allows, without judging or preaching.
I am grateful to Alexander for letting me meet Stuart, and grateful to Stuart for his searing honesty, his warmth, and his humour.
"I couldn't stop listening"
This is warm and caring account of one man's roller coaster life. It drew me in to a 'relationship' with Stuart who is someone society will walk by in the street any day of the week and possibly dismiss as undesirable.
Alexander Masters beautifully and sensitively exposes Stuart's very complex personality, his standards,his coping skills and the 'niceness' which is in there not far below the surface!
"Such a great story!"
I'm so glad that the publisher decided to make an audiobook edition for this book. This is a masterpiece and definitely worth buying.
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