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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 19 September 2011
VS Pritchett has written a splendid two-volume autobiography, which covers his childhood through his initiation as a writer. It is beautifully written and hilariously funny in places.

His early life was rather chaotic, both as a Christian Scientist and because of the ups and downs of his father's business, which meant they were frequently poor and the the children farmed out to grandparents. What is remarkable is his rise, from voracious reader to first-rate literary talent. Blocked from admission to university because he was put on a "craft" track in the leather trade, he gave it up and went abroad, the next best thing to a degree. In Paris as a semi-bohemian, he started writing, which led to jobs and a career.

His descriptions are so marvelous that I have remembered some of them for over 30 years. While a child writing for public-library event, he said he wrote the words so that they would "burn into the table" (if memory serves!); the essay was so good that the teacher thought he was really a professional writer. Nothing spectacular, but a first-rate story of coming of age.

I recommend it for any aspiring writer who wants to feel that some order might emerge from his/her chaos of early hopes. ALso for the literarati, it is the emergence of an unusual mind.
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