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Waking Up in Toytown: A Memoir by [Burnside, John]
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Waking Up in Toytown: A Memoir Kindle Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Length: 272 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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`Burnside is an utterly original author' --Financial Times

'beautifully written and observed memoir... a writer of manifest talent... readable memoir possessed of a genuine spiritual and intellectual depth' --Sunday Telegraph

`a larger and more generous book ... the precision and beauty of his language is like a proof of his achievement - a kind of higher sanity' --Guardian

`most lucid and poetic of memoirs' --Daily Telegraph

`Burnside may not find himself convincing, but this complex, considered piece of work certainly is'

`There is no truer writer than John Burnside... filled with grace and as plangent and haunting as any plainsong.' --Scotsman

`hauntingly written ... a gripping, often humours account of the world of the functioning alcoholic ... stunningly exact prose'
--Sunday Times

'Burnside's memoir deserves to become a classic.' --Daily Express

'disturbing, powerful memoir' --Sunday Times

'One of the best memoirs I've read for ages'

'a brilliant portrayal of isolation...this sophisticated study of the human mind argues for our right "to cintinue in the pursuit of whole-heartedness. To be not normal after all."' --Independent

'"beautifully written" new memoir...He writes about "squalor and desperation" with "precision and beauty"' --The Week

`[Burnside has a] poetic eye for language and image...[a] non-judgemental, ultimately redemptive search for some sort of meaning among the shifting sands of madness and sanity'. --The Metro

`This is an extraordinary book and one so honest it scorches' --The Irish Times

Book Description

The sequel to the award-winning A Lie About My Father

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 732 KB
  • Print Length: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital (30 Nov. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004C055CC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #69,629 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Paperback
It's difficult to write a review of such a beautifully written book because it feels paltry in comparison. Burnside is a poet, and you can tell it in his use of language where he can make the mundane seem as gripping as a thriller, the emotion and tension as taut as a guitar string stretched to breaking point (one of his similes). This is the second instalment of Burnside's autobiography - I haven't read the first - and it tells of his working and personal life which, on the surface, isn't that much more remarkable or unremarkable than thousands of other people's lives. Burnside, however, lives his life on the cusp of madness, using alcohol and occasionally drugs to try and calm his sometimes fevered existence, while trying to explain to himself just how he came to be. His tales of the alcoholic's life and experience are disquieting and disturbing because he relates it all in such a matter of fact way. There doesn't seem to be regret over the lost hours in the bars and the bottle, more an acceptance of it as a facet of who he was, or is. Anyone who has ever woken more than once at four in the morning, lying on the sofa with the tv blaring away and a vague memory of starting drinking at some point previously in the evening will feel a cold shudder reading some of these passages. Either that, or they'll go and fix themselves a drink.
He takes the same approach to his "madness", his apophenia. He presents it as an altered state that's no better or worse than whatever normality is, but feels that he prefers it to a lot of "normal life" he sees lived by others. Perhaps most outsiders see themselves this way, that while the discontentment and restlessness causes pain, it's worth it in comparison to an alternative of boredom brought through contentment.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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Format: Hardcover
'Waking..' is a second privileged insight into the early life of this remarkable man. A poet who truly flys.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I recommend this book 5 Dec. 2014
By Robert Gorchov - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
John Burnside's 'Waking Up In Toytown' is a deeply felt account of his experience with borderline mental illness, drug abuse, and alcoholism. It is also a story of his attempt to live a "normal" life and why he ended up questioning the normality that he aspired to. Burnside is also a poet, and while his prose is poetic it is at the same incisive: his language is always anchored in his experience, which is often harrowing. He also writes with insight about the various people whom he encountered along the way to what he thought would be a normal life.
I recommend this book, as well as Burnside's earlier memoir of his father and himself as a child, entitled 'A Lie About My Father.' If you're looking for honesty, insightful understanding, and beautifully written prose, John Burnside is an author you should read.
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