Stuart : A Life Backwards

by Alexander Masters | Biographies & Memoirs |
ISBN: 0007200374 Global Overview for this book
Registered by BookGroupMan of Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on 6/6/2007
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1 journaler for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Wednesday, June 06, 2007
This looks fascinating, a glimpse into the life - and past - of a 'typical' man on the street...based in Cambridge, and free with The Times!

(30/09) I wanted to like this more than I did, being based in Cambridge in some of the ‘mean streets’ that I know, and because I have often wondered, quite impotently, about what can be done with the homeless, or ‘rough sleepers’ as they are more properly referred to in this book. But, the book as the recent TV production (screenplay: Alexander Masters) felt a bit too much like a social experiment, an indulgence by a biographer who could never really understand his subject. The ‘life backwards’ tries to deconstruct Stuart Shorter’s chaotic lifestyle, the drugs, the violence, into a series of chartable events…I don’t want to say causes. In the end, however, although Masters seems to have developed a genuine affection for Stuart, I believe that his behaviour is fundamentally unknowable unless you are in his head (and who would want to be there!). I think Stuart has a greater self-awareness of this, suggesting that despite the physical and mental illness, the family and institution abuse and brutalization, the problem could just be Stuart himself; a depressing thought that may or may not have led to his suicide(?)

The glimpses into the lifestyle and sub-culture just beneath the surface of one of the most ‘civilised’ cities in the country is very interesting in parts, but the constant frustration, anger, depravity and sheer chaoticness of the whole book – Stuart’s life - is draining.

Finally, as is my want, I have picked out a couple of ‘quotable’ lines, not necessarily key to the story, but because I liked them :-)

“Can a person’s history be broken up? Isn’t a life the sum of its pasts.”

(of Stuart and the amount that he talks)
“If words were legs he’d be a billionipede”

“I can’t hope to justify or explain Stuart…just staple him to the page.”


Passed on to a friend and book lover. Enjoy :)

(ps. yours to keep, pass on, or release...)

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