Stuart: A Life Backwards

  • by Alexander Masters
  • Narrated by Jot Davies
  • 9 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A unique biography of a homeless man and a complete portrait of the hidden underclass. 'So here it is, my attempt at the story of Stuart Shorter, thief, hostage taker, psycho and sociopath street raconteur, my spy on how the British chaotic underclass spend their troubled days at the beginning of this century: a man with an important life. I wish I could have presented it to Stuart before he stepped in front of the 11.15 train from London to Kings Lynn.'
Stuart Shorter's brief life was one of turmoil and chaos. In this remarkable book, a masterful act of biographical restoration, Alexander Masters retraces Stuart's troubled journey. Stuart was homeless, with many of the problems this sub-section of English society display: alcoholism, drug-addiction, crime, violence. Scattered with glimpses of the author's friendship with Stuart in the years before his death, Masters gives us Stuart's life in reverse, tracing his route backwards through the post-office heists and attempts at suicide and the spells inside many of this country's prisons, on back to a troubled time at school and learning difficulties and a violent childhood that acted like a springboard into the trouble that was to follow him all his life.
This extraordinary book is a glimpse at the underbelly of English society, a world largely hidden from our lives. Funny, despairing, uplifting, brilliantly-written, it is one of the most original biographies of recent years.

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What the Critics Say

"It will surely prove to be the debut of the year." (Andrew O'Hagan, Telegraph)
"I feel so strongly about this strange, funny, sad book that I hardly know where to begin.... My enthusiasm feels almost limitless. A page-turner.... the structure of Stuart is a masterstroke, allowing buried secrets to be uncovered like hunks of beef beneath silver domes." (Observer)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

An actual "must read". Surprisingly funny.

Brilliantly written, brilliantly narrated, heartbreaking, heartwarming.
"Stuart: A Life Backwards" tells one of the hundreds of thousands of untold stories of the discarded, disregarded, and forgotten of our society.
Alexander is the perfect author for this story - though he met Stuart through his work with a charity for the homeless, he is not a "bleeding heart liberal" who wants to pull you in to outraged action by tugging on your heart strings and screaming about the unfairness and injustice. He tells the story as calmly and rationally as Stuart's chaos allows, without judging or preaching.
I am grateful to Alexander for letting me meet Stuart, and grateful to Stuart for his searing honesty, his warmth, and his humour.
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- Sophie Gray-Bickle

Simply lovely!

I thoroughly enjoyed Stuart: A life backward. At finst I thought it might become a bit tedious, and indeed found it slightly predictable in some places, but I became engrossed in the complex unfolding relationship between Stuart and Alexander. Narration was absolutely superb!
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- Adele

Book Details

  • Release Date: 27-09-2012
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Limited