May 2016 Non-Fiction Book of the Month.
A detective story, investigating the life of the person whose diaries – 148 of them at least – turned up in a skip in 2001. Who was this person, this I who had written every day for nearly 50 years? Alexander Masters determines to search out this “Life Discarded” making for a lively, poignant and most unusual biography of a person we don't immediately know the name of, don't know their sex or age even if they're dead or alive. Our vision of the diarist changes as Alexander Masters truffles out more facts, the perspective constantly shifting turning me into a compulsive reader longing to know the writer's identity. Never fear, all is revealed and I won't spoil it here except to say I doubt if there will be another biography quite like this one along for a long time, an extraordinary story of one of the most compulsive diarists of recent times.
Like for Like Reading. The Boy in the Book: One Man's Adventure in Search of a Lost Childhood by Nathan Penlington. The Diaries of Nella Last: Writings in War and Peace Edited by Patricia and Robert Malcolmson
Unique, transgressive and as funny as its subject, A Life Discarded has all the suspense of a murder mystery. Written 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. Tens of thousands of pages were filled to the edges with urgent handwriting. They were a small part of an intimate, anonymous diary, starting in 1952 and ending half a century later, a few weeks before the books were thrown out. Over five years, the award-winning biographer Alexander Masters uncovers the identity and real history of their author, with an astounding final revelation. A Life Discarded is a true, shocking, poignant, often hilarious story of an ordinary life. The author of the diaries, known only as 'I', is the tragicomic patron saint of everyone who feels their life should have been more successful. Part thrilling detective story, part love story, part social history, A Life Discarded is also an account of two writers' obsessions: of 'I's need to record every second of life and of Masters' pursuit of this mysterious yet universal diarist.
In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read the full reviews.
Praise for Stuart: A Life Backwards:
'It's been years since I've been so delighted by a book and so surprised by it. When I'd finished I felt bereft, as if I'd lost an old friend
'I feel so strongly about this strange, funny, sad book that I hardly know where to begin. My enthusiasm feels almost limitless'
'Funny and original, a startling book. By the end I was doubled up in tears, but throughout I was often doubled up with laughter. It is dazzling'
Vogue Praise for Simon: The Genius in My Basement
'Astonishingly good ... a glorious book: funny, surprising and completely sui generis'
'Wholly original ... a wonderful book which shows you don't have to be 'normal'
to be happy' Daily Mail
'Captivating ... Masters has managed to convey something of the beauty and mystery not just of mathematics but of the human spirit.' Sunday Telegraph
Publication date: 05/05/2016
Publisher: Fourth Estate Ltd an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
|Publication date:||5th May 2016|
|Publisher:||Fourth Estate Ltd an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers|
|Genres:||Biography / Autobiography, Books of the Month, Reader Reviewed Books, The Real World,|
|Categories:||Biography: general, Diaries, letters & journals,|
Alexander Masters’ first book, Stuart: A Life Backwards, won the Guardian First Book Award, the Hawthornden Prize and was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize and the Costa Biography Prize. Eighteen different newspapers and popular magazines chose it as Book of the Year. It was turned into a BBC film starring Tom Hardy and Benedict Cumberbatch. Alexander lives in Sussex.More About Alexander Masters