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The Grass Arena [Digital Download]

4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)

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  • Digital Download
  • ISBN-10: 0141889497
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141889498
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,027,285 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars chess-the cure for everything? 2 April 2005
Format:Hardcover
I first learnt of this book when I read an interview with John in,I think it was the Guardian.Having had a personal experience of coping with a family members alcoholism I was very interested to read the story of someone who discovered a way to overcome it.To me it was both disturbing and optomistic,it led me to understand a little more about the personal battle being fought by the individual as well as the hopeless task of sustaining a day to day life when caught in the throes of addiction.I originally bought the book as I thought it may shed some kind of positive light on overcoming the abuse,I endeed up keeping the book to myself as what it disclosed to me was an unfinished story.I often wonder what happened to John after he had told his story,it explained many things about how we as individuals try to conquer our demons but it didnt offer a solution.I found this book to be both informative and emotive and would recommend it to anyone who feels they need to hear the truth about what life as a wino is like.John was fortunate in that he found an escape, however temporary.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lucid 12 April 2008
Format:Paperback
I don't read much but this book is gripping. I picked it up and ended up reading it for half an hour in the shop... and kinda had to buy it!

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.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars hard pleasure 19 April 2010
Format:Paperback
In some ways this book is a hard one to read, not because of any inadequacies in the written style of the book, which is forthwright and punchy, but because of it's honesty. John Healy hasn't held back and right from the beginning of the book, when we are exposed to his father's agressive parenting, we know that this is no 'life-through-rose-tinted-glasses' account.

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.

Gabrielle O'Grady
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Coda to the John Healy story. 14 Sept. 2012
Format:Paperback
Just watched a programme on the author of The Grass Arena on the Irish channel RTE. Following his overnight success with The Grass Arena, it seems that Healy fell foul of the London literary establishment after a bit of a fracas with the then literary editor of Faber & Faber (who published the book) Robert McCrum. At one point, Healy, rather unwisely, threatened to chop McCrum's head off with an axe. The cause of Healy's disgruntlement was his concern over royalties for the book. An emotionally damaged man (given his years as a homeless alcoholic on the outer fringes of society) Healy lacked the necessary social skills and graces to put his case in a more sober and less bellicose manner. Failing to allow for the this, McCrum acted wimpishly and rather boorishly refused to have anything more to do with the hapless Healy. Thereafter, Healy's book went out of print and he was unable to find another publisher. In short, he was blacklisted. However, the good news is that Penguin Classics are to republish The Grass Arena. Healy's chess skills are as strong as ever. He recently played 15 opponents all at the same time and won 14 out of the 15 games.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars classic 3 Nov. 2010
By Goods
Format:Paperback
The subject of a rather unkind review in the Guardian when it first came out, Healy's autobiography deserves its inclusion as a Penguin classic. A wonderful book, with real literary merit, Down and Out in London and Paris pales into insignificance in comparison as a document of the lives of the destitute and broken. At a time when you can't avoid being overwhelmed by the avalanche of autobiographical tales of woe and misery in the nation's bookshops, this is the real thing. Would be great to have a follow-up to see how John's life has fared since those days on the streets. Can't recommend it highly enough. Deserves to be read much more widely than it's been so far.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
This memoir, written in the 1980s, but looking back on a life lived on the streets of London in the 1950s and 60s, is a minor masterpiece. Its spare style is the key to its power and you can feel the honesty behind every word Healy wrote looking back on his youth and young adulthood. Reading The Grass Arena, you'll get a completely different perspective on London life, one you've never really considered before. The book captures you with the story, yes, the observations, yes, but also with the variety of characters Healy introduces you to from his eventful life in 'the grass arena' and how he escaped it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A super read. Saw the drama with Mark Rylance on BBC years ago. Always wanted to read the book.
Published 1 month ago by SusieW
5.0 out of 5 stars I didn't realise the film was based on a book and was glad to get the...
Tremendous book highlighting the progressive illness of alcoholism and his eventual journey of recovery. Read more
Published 2 months ago by The Big O'
4.0 out of 5 stars You have seen them
I saw the film ages ago and used to see people like them in London and st leonards. I tried to buy the book for a long time so thank God for e-readers. Read more
Published 2 months ago by William McDuff
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
The passage of time has not reduced the brilliance of this work a must read for anyone interested in subjects of homeless,addiction and survival
Published 3 months ago by James Mort
4.0 out of 5 stars ... author and it's a raw look at what it's like to live on the...
It's quite a harrowing read but I saw a film about the author and it's a raw look at what it's like to live on the streets of London as an alcoholic and how the author gave up... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Ms. Alice J. Turner
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great book
Published 4 months ago by tfog
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
First class read
Published 4 months ago by patrick coghlan
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
What a moving story, beautifully told by John Healy.

Should be part of the national curriculum.
Published 4 months ago by Paul Power
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Brilliant book for those who want to get to rock bottom and come back up again. L learnt a lot about what it was like living rough from this and was quite shocked how bad it can... Read more
Published 5 months ago by ian
3.0 out of 5 stars Lightweight
John Healy's story is an out of the ordinary one, there is no disputing that. And his autobiography, 'The Grass Arena' certainly offers a very candid depiction of the brutal life... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Woolco
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