- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Classics; Later Edition edition (31 July 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0141189592
- ISBN-13: 978-0141189598
- Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.9 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 48,889 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Grass Arena: An Autobiography (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 31 Jul 2008
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More About the Author
'A wonderful book' -- Ken loach
'Terrific' -- Harold Pinter
'The Grass Arena' is a masterpiece -- Ervine Welsh
'The grass arena is a one off .... one of the most compelling pieces of literature i have ever come accross' -- The Irish post
'Time and again one is appalled by the pleasure The grass Arena furnishes as literature, when it is so clearly not fiction. And this sense of the reader#s dilemma as a priviledged observer in a world of casual savagery that is palpably real is a troubling and thouroughly enriching one' -- John Kemp Literary review
The last thing John Healy needs is a tidy snippet of blurb from the likes of me which is a good thing because economy defeats me; I don't know how to be moderate or concise in praise of his startling autobiography `The Grass Arena'. So economy I'll leave to him, a master storyteller with an ear, an eye and a voice that should be the envy of many men with weightier reputations. There is no perceptible distance between the words, which seem to have chosen themselves and the experiences from which they blossomed like a garden of wild flowers. Armed to the teeth with his wit and self-knowledge he takes us to that other place, his grass arena, the one which we pass how many times in any given day, averting our eyes? The one into whose violent clutches we might descend more easily than we dare to contemplate. He is our jaunty, gleeful tour guide and messenger from hell. His fellow combatants, exuberant, murderous and sentimental, by turns touchingly loyal, vengeful and treacherous seem to have sprung from the same bloodlines as Falstaff, Pistol, Nell and their fellows. They pitch their tents in the same refuse-filled shadows as their forebears; a confederacy of the dispossessed. Healy's life, were it not for an astonishing turn of events, seems predestined to be a short one.
As in Knut Hamsun's mighty book `Hunger', we are utterly compelled both by the power of Healy's story and his great power in the telling of it, no matter how bleak the outlook, to stay by his side until the last word is writ. -- Daniel Day Lewis, August 2008
-- Irvine Welsh
About the Author
Healy was born into an impoverished, Irish immigrant family, in the slums of Kentish Town, North London. Out of school by 14, pressed into the army and intermittently in prison, Healy became an alocholic early on in life. Despite these obstacles Healy achieved remarkable, indeed phenomenal expertise in both writing and Chess, as outlined in the autobiographical The Grass Arena.
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Top Customer Reviews
This is an autobiography of a boxer & drunk, who became a great chess player whilst in prison.
I'm not well read but I've never seen anyone describe life so lucidly on page. It's sooo much better than any novel i read. There's a lot of brutality in this book and it's not always a pleasant read. But the author has little self pitty and bounces back from the most dire situations.
I admit i haven't finished it. It's like a window into a world that you don't always want to look into. But gripping when your there.
The Grass Arena refers to John's life as a homeless junkie in the parks of London. This is where the pleasure of the book lies. He describes a world which seems to be happening in parallel to the 'real' one, but it is no less real for John or those that shared their existence with him. It is very difficult to understand how anyone can live this way and survive for any length of time. Thankfully, John did, eventually finding chess which brought him back to a more healthy existence and a future.
This book is already a classic. I would love to see it on the curriculum.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An extraordinary account of someone triumphing over adversity, disadvantage and addiction, and it's all true. Read morePublished 3 months ago by simon fidler
An unrelenting dismal tale of a life on the streets soaked in alcohol and random violence until Chess saved him. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Keith Larkworthy
A good book in very good condition a modern classic. I enjoyed reading it ,thanksPublished 7 months ago by johnharding
The cure of the story
Trojan, son of Anchises, the way down to Avernus is easy,
Day and night black Pluto's door stands open. Read more
Down and out stories. Recommended in the Guardian. Gritty and full of interest.Published 9 months ago by R. M. Carr
A super read. Saw the drama with Mark Rylance on BBC years ago. Always wanted to read the book.Published 10 months ago by SusieW