A breathtakingly beautiful memoir of childhood.
He had his final heart attack in the Silver Band Club in Corby, somewhere between the bar and the cigarette machine. A foundling; a fantasist; a morose, threatening drinker who was quick with his hands, he hadn’t seen his son for years. And for all those years the two estranged men had been falling – each at their own pace – towards their own vanishing points.
John Burnside’s extraordinary story of this failed relationship is an exquisitely written evocation of a lost and damaged world of childhood: from the condemned prefabs, overgrown gardens and haunted woods of Cowdenbeath to the simmering gang violence and industrial squalor of Corby. And through all this, the constants of his father’s world: men defined by the drink they could take and the pain they could stand, men shaped by their guilt and machismo. This was a life of secrets – drunken rampages, adolescent fumblings, domestic violence, illicit affairs, angels in deserted houses – which was to set a pattern of falling: binge-drinking, drug abuse and emotional exile: trying to eradicate the past, trying to disappear.
A Lie About My Father
is about forgiving but not forgetting, about examining the way men are made and how they fall apart, about understanding that in order to have a good son you must have a good father. John Burnside’s unflinching honesty, profound thinking and heart-stopping images of beauty and fracture combine to create a moving, unforgettable memoir of two lost men: a father and his child.
John Burnside has published five works of fiction and nine collections of poetry, including The Asylum Dance
, which won the 2000 Whitbread Poetry Award.
This account of a failed father-son relationship is written with extraordinary beauty and insight... His is a profound meditation on the life of the spirit, and the shadows we all carry in our hearts,Marvellously written scenes…few people write more hauntingly... His prose has a poet’s delicacy and fine-honed precision,Anyone who has read Gosse, Ackerley or Tobias Wolff will know that big books can be made about small-time fathers. It's a tribute to Burnside that he maps this same territory and prompts these comparisons while creating a story that is uniquely his,This is a haunting read that will linger long after you close the pages of this book,Destined to become a classic of Scots childhood… A beautiful read, but also a brutal one,Superbly written; poetic in the best sense, summoning up a world of terror and beauty,[An] exquisitely written memoir,Burnside’s prose is a delight… Memoir this good illuminates something larger than itself. It is an exercise in understanding compassion and forgiveness