Alexander Masters (2005) Stuart a life backwards.
Posted by celticman on Fri, 09 Aug 2013
Winner of The Guardian First Book award 2005 and it’s easy to see why. I’ve known about this book for a while and it was one of the thousands of must read book that remained unread. If you’ve not read it, read it! Put it to the top of the pile of books you must read. Stuart Shorter was a wee guy with lots of things wrong with him. If I were a social worker I’d say he had “ issues”, but I’m not, so I’ll just say he was completely fucking bonkers and it was no big surprise when he stepped out in front of a train. This book has Stuart as its starting point and finishing point, but it’s also about a Alexander Masters, a writer’s relationship with Stuart. The two of them met when Stuart was begging in a doorway in Cambridge with big plans to piss off local drunks enough to kick his head in and kill him. Death by drunks is a variant of death by cops, but Stuart had his own idiosyncratic way of seeing the world. Masters and Shorter became friendly while campaigning to free Ruth Wyner and John Brock who were sent to prison on trumped up charges for trying to help folk like Stuart. In Stuart’s world these kinds of things were normal. He’s spent most of his life locked up and when he wasn’t locked up he was goin off on one. The story begins with ‘Stuart does not like the manuscript…Two years’ worth of interviews and literary effort.’ ‘What’s the matter with it?’ [asks Masters]. ‘It’s bollocks boring’ [replies Stuart]. Masters captures the way he speaks the way he behaves and what happened to make him that way. It’s a how-to story about writing a book; it’s a love story about friendship and a detective story as he hunts down the leads. Dare I say it? It’s a masterpiece.