In 2001, 148 tattered and mold-covered notebooks were discovered lying among broken bricks in a bin on a building site in Cambridge, England. Tens of thousands of pages were filled to the edges with urgent handwriting. They were a small part of an intimate, mysterious diary, starting in 1952 and ending half a century later, a few weeks before the books were thrown out. The anonymous author, known only as "I", reveals themselves as the tragicomic patron saint of everyone who feels their life should have been more successful.
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.
Unique, transgressive and as funny as its subject, A Life Discarded has all the suspense of a murder mystery. With his characteristic warmth, respect and humour, Masters asks you to join him in celebrating an unknown and important life left on the scrap heap. A Life Discarded is a biographical detective story. In 2001, 148 tattered and mould-covered notebooks were discovered lying among broken bricks in a skip on a building site in Cambridge.
As Aristotle understood it, ‘there is no great genius without a mixture of madness’ and he may well have had a point: Einstein routinely forgot his way home when out walking the streets of Vienna, Nietzsche wound up in an insane asylum and Bobby Fischer, the chess prodigy, now scrambles around the world, seeking residency in any country reckless enough to let him through immigration.Simon Philips Norton, the subject of The Genius in my Basement, is not mad – not by a long shot – but he is certainly mixed up.