Sunday, 9 January 2011

World Book Night challenge 3/25

Stuart a life backwards - Alexander Masters

This is a book that I've been aware of for a very long time, but probably would never have read had it not appeared on the World Book Night list. I always seemed so close to being one of the 'misery memoir' books that I'd have avoided it on principle.

It just goes to show that you really shouldn't hold these preconceived ideas for this book is another that blew me away. It is not an easy read, and the things it contains are so far from my own life that I found it hard to believe that it really did happen only 60 miles from where I live and only a decade ago.

I am finding nearly as impossible to recount this book as Masters found it to write at first. To compress the book into a review does it no justice, there is so much happening that I'd end up rewriting it.
All I can say is that you have to read it. You won't find it easy, comforting or really even enjoyable but all the same you have to read it.

The style works perfectly and as this is a story of friendship as well as a biography it is only right that you find a lot of Alexander in the book too. This adds to the story, it never detracts from it and the book never becomes about Alexander it is always Stuart's story, a feat which makes Masters, in my eyes, a very talented writer.

This possibly wasn't the best choice of book to read over Christmas, but I don't for an instant regret reading it. I can understand if it is 'too much' for many people, but I urge you to give it a try - reading out of your comfort zone is good for you, and this book deserves to find an extra 48000 readers in 2011.

There is a BBC adaptation if you prefer, it sticks closely to the book and is just as hard hitting. For once I am just as pleased I watched it as I am that I read the book.

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