In the early 80s, after a decade of drug abuse and borderline mental illness, a man runs away to the suburbs, to live what he hopes will be a normal life. With the aid of his last remaining friends he finds a regular job, goes to AA meetings and resolves to 'disappear into the banal' - to escape his addictive personality and find a 'Surbiton of the mind'- but he can't seem to outrun his own demons and, before long, he is back where he started.
The suburbs, though, are not quite as normal as he had imagined and, as he relapses into chaos, he encounters a homicidal office worker who is obsessed with Alfred Hitchcock and Petula Clark, an old lover, with whom he reprises a troubled, masochistic relationship and, finally, the seemingly flesh-and-blood embodiments of all his private phantoms - as he drifts further and further into unreality.
The sequel to his haunting, celebrated account of a troubled childhood, A Lie About My Father, John Burnside's startling new memoir follows his hopeless quest for peace and mental security as the ghosts and terrors close in and the illusion of Surbiton falls apart. Unsettling, touching, oddly romantic and unflinchingly honest, this is the story of one man's search for sanity - but it is also, in its own way, the true story of an impossible, unmanageable love.
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A memoir that follows the author's hopeless quest for peace and mental security as the ghosts and terrors close in and the illusion of Surbiton falls apart.Review:
`Burnside is an utterly original author' --Financial Times
'beautifully written and observed memoir... a writer of manifest talent... readable memoir possessed of a genuine spiritual and intellectual depth' --Sunday Telegraph
`a larger and more generous book ... the precision and beauty of his language is like a proof of his achievement - a kind of higher sanity' --Guardian
`most lucid and poetic of memoirs' --Daily Telegraph
`Burnside may not find himself convincing, but this complex, considered piece of work certainly is'
`There is no truer writer than John Burnside... filled with grace and as plangent and haunting as any plainsong.' --Scotsman
`hauntingly written ... a gripping, often humours account of the world of the functioning alcoholic ... stunningly exact prose'
'Burnside's memoir deserves to become a classic.' --Daily Express
'disturbing, powerful memoir' --Sunday Times
'One of the best memoirs I've read for ages'
'a brilliant portrayal of isolation...this sophisticated study of the human mind argues for our right "to cintinue in the pursuit of whole-heartedness. To be not normal after all."' --Independent
'"beautifully written" new memoir...He writes about "squalor and desperation" with "precision and beauty"' --The Week
`[Burnside has a] poetic eye for language and image...[a] non-judgemental, ultimately redemptive search for some sort of meaning among the shifting sands of madness and sanity'. --The Metro
`This is an extraordinary book and one so honest it scorches' --The Irish Times
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Book Description Jonathan Cape, 2010. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st Edition. A mint first printing in a likewise unclipped dust wrapper.Unread gift condition. BOXED DESPATCH: OVERSEAS AIR ONLY. Bookseller Inventory # ABE-18228579652
Book Description Jonathan Cape, 2010. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110224080733