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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book
Maybe it takes a poet like Burnside to open up this tricky relationship. With a lying, violent drunk of a father, most men walk away, stay away or do the opposite, face up with the same rage then spend a life as a carbon copy. At one stage, knife in hand, Burnside comes close, even starting into the same drowing, LSD instead of booze. But it's not the relationship, it's...
Published on 5 Aug 2007 by Craig Duncan

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7 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Childhood through a glass darkly
For the most part this is an enjoyable read, boy can the author write? A true poet from humble and desolate origins who evokes his childhood so imaginatively. Read it and you find yourself comparing your own childhood and parental relationships. I felt the book was two chapters too long and did become a bit indulgent and tainted with self pity. This is a minor criticism...
Published on 3 April 2006 by Solo Walker


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book, 5 Aug 2007
This review is from: A Lie About My Father (Paperback)
Maybe it takes a poet like Burnside to open up this tricky relationship. With a lying, violent drunk of a father, most men walk away, stay away or do the opposite, face up with the same rage then spend a life as a carbon copy. At one stage, knife in hand, Burnside comes close, even starting into the same drowing, LSD instead of booze. But it's not the relationship, it's the act of writing it, that impresses me - a towering kind of compassion that tries to get beyond the anger and self-loathing, to find a point of human contact, something of dignity, in what can't be shed. There are fathers like this everywhere, just tweak the profile to fit. But few sons would or could deconstruct the damage to make something admirable of it. This memoir is a monument to the humanity of men, to the unhardening of hearts. Everyone should read it, preferably before having a son.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why is this the story of so many unloving and unloved men?, 9 Sep 2009
By 
Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Lie About My Father (Paperback)
John Burnside has written a remarkably courageous and deeply thoughtful book in this memoir of his father, who was abandoned as a baby and brought up in dire poverty in the lowlands of Scotland. Burnside is totally without sentimentality, yet his innate tenderness is never far from the surface, even though his relationship with his father was catastrophic.

Burnside's father was a drunkard, a liar and dissembler who ruled with threats and, later with violence. The lies came thick and fast - he lied about his origins, about his past life, and in the final analysis, about manhood - and it is a lie that so many men tell: that a man cannot own a true emotion; that he must not trust anyone; that he must be hard and unforgiving in order to survive. Why is this the story of so many unloving and unloved men? Burnside can't explain this, but what he does do is make it feel real.

As well as the story of his father, this book is also about Burnside's childhood, and what it led to as he grew up and left home. A dependency on psychotropic drugs and a life of drifting and falling - out of the world and into the imagination, and images and sensations are invoked to explain his own disaffections and self-damage. Sometimes the images are intensely beautiful and the writing seems to exist in its own time, beyond the limits of mere storytelling. Burnside is also a poet, and uses language to get behind events and beyond their mundanity to the core of sensations, feelings and events in order to say something profoundly universal about men and fatherhood. I found this brave book compelling reading.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Horribly fascinating, 8 Mar 2009
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J. Cranwell - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Lie About My Father (Paperback)
I found this fascinating, but horribly fascinating. It's a story of a desperate family, the father haunted by his past, surrendering to drink in the present - the mother holding things together but at a terrible cost - the children growing up, suffering, but somehow emerging as functional "normal" people.

It's written in a very easy and accesible style which accentuates the darkness of the story
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars alie about my father, 13 Feb 2010
By 
B. Roberts "le bassa" (uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Lie About My Father (Paperback)
as with all Burnsides, work,
a stronge lyrical narrative.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, 27 Feb 2006
By A Customer
This review is from: A Lie About My Father (Hardcover)
If you only ever read one memoir in your life, make sure it's this one. None of the usual self-indulgence, but plenty of evocative, beautiful recollection of the difficult and fractured relationship between a boy and his father. Thoroughly recommend it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully told..., 5 Jun 2014
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With all the care and precision of his poetry, Burnside's book gently draws you into a story of human frailty; it explores how people learn to live with disappointment, describing that often felt and desperate urge to escape or hide away from problems and difficulties, the pain of caring about the people we love and the guilt we feel when we don't.

It's a beautifully told story exploring universal themes, whilst giving his very personal account. I found it almost impossible to put down, despite the often bleak subject matter, and some of the passages or details in it made me smile in wry recognition.

For anyone who has experienced the anguish of a parent who drinks or the childish frustration of repeated disappointment at a parent's failings, this will ring true. It's not a cheery book but it's not wholly sad either. What it is, though, is a beautiful exploration of a difficult childhood and adolescence, told exceptionally well.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary writing, 2 Dec 2013
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J. M. Holley - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Lie About My Father (Paperback)
It took several pages for me to sink into this very detailed but very poetic style of writing. The book is intensely moving the deeper into it you get. I was in tears for much of the ending and chose to read some passages several times over. Like a painting where each time you look at it you see more and different things. I think I can use the phrase 'blown away' honestly here. The book stayed with me and I with it for many weeks after finishing it.
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7 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Childhood through a glass darkly, 3 April 2006
By 
Solo Walker "SW" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Lie About My Father (Hardcover)
For the most part this is an enjoyable read, boy can the author write? A true poet from humble and desolate origins who evokes his childhood so imaginatively. Read it and you find yourself comparing your own childhood and parental relationships. I felt the book was two chapters too long and did become a bit indulgent and tainted with self pity. This is a minor criticism though as self pity is as intoxicating as drug or alcohol addiction, which the author inevitably succumbs. There is no happy ending, but there is triumph. The power of the human spirit and this shines through from begining to end.
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5 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars a bit of a yawn, 10 Jun 2006
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This review is from: A Lie About My Father (Hardcover)
I tend to buy fiction and memoir by poets because they usually produce concentrated, lyrical and richly written prose, but John Burnside's book had me turning over the pages to see if anything better, anything different, was coming next. I found it too meandering, working through the same material for too long. I'd have to say that the writing is lyrical, though for my tastes a little self-indulgent:the author entertaining himself more than his audience. Maybe my own pre-conceptions have resulted in this disappointment, but it's not often I decide to give up a third of the way through a book because I'm bored. I'll stick to his poetry from now on. I do recommend that.
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A Lie About My Father
A Lie About My Father by John Burnside (Paperback - 1 Mar 2007)
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