I hate to repeat the tagline that comes with this first autobiographical-novel of Billy Childish’s, but this really is one of those books that ‘had to be written’. So I don’t care that the book sags a little in the middle, or that his mother’s rants can take up a chapter, because My Fault simply had to be written the way only Childish wanted to, and the only we he could.
Detailing his life growing up in the sixties and seventies, this is primarily about his childhood and ends when he’s twenty two – just as he’s become a shadow of his father. His father’s mostly absent for his childhood, and when he does show up, he’ll be drunk, abusive and repulsively nasty. Growing up in sheer poverty, with such a father, and with a ‘family friend’ who sexually abuses him (told with such frankness from a ten year old boy’s perspective), and with dyslexia (which in the sixties was simply: being a thicko), and with the artist’s coy and sensitive nature, this story gives the gritty details of why Childish turned out to be the angry, sensitive, drunk genius he is.
I’m usually a stickler for good proofing, but if any books should be published as they’re written, it’s Childish’s. Reading other works by him that are written in his dyslexic prose are much better than this one that’s been corrected for mass marketing, so I wish I’d read the first edition of this. That’s my only grumble.
Billy Childish is the best kept secret of the arts. So I don’t recommend that you read his books and his poems, or hear his music, or view his paintings, ‘cos this is someone I’m a fan of who I want to keep for myself.
Hard to get into. The subject matter is, of course, uncomfortable, but the narrative style makes both protagonist and situations entirely unrelatable. There are a few scenes of comedy, and genuine moments of enlightening contemplation, but they unfortunately do not redeem this over-lengthy and self-indulgent text. If biography is your thing, you might enjoy it - but I would not recommend this to a friend.
Billy's classic 1st autobiograhical novel exposes his troubled childhood/adolescence in a frank & totally honest, yet brutal way. From the sexual abuse by a family friend as a child through to the day he beat his father up, this book is a compelling read & will make you laugh & cry in places.
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My fault by Billy Childish is simply the best English noivel written in the twentieth century, the lyrical flow and honesty of the central character, narrator, is equal to both Allan Sillitoe's Saturday Night Sunday Morning and Malcolm Lowry's Under the Volcano. The book takes you through the childhood of a dyslexic, working class boy. The disfunction, disassociation and allienation of the character is perfectly caught, it comes across as a mixture between the childhood books of Jack Kerouac, his evocation of the Chatham of the seventies equal to Kerouac's Lowell and, inevitably with a novel about an adolescent boy, Catcher in The Rye. The other novel that it most resembled to me was Bukowski's childhood memoir/novel Ham on Rye. Childish is a better novelist than Bukowski and his political and moral force is harder. When a dopey lying book like The Strange Case of the Dog in the Night is being praised so widely a book like this that tells the truth about growing up needs to be read. If you haven't read this you don't know nothing about literature.
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