Waking Up in Toytown, By John Burnside
The darker side of Surbiton
Sunday 16 January 2011
For some, John Burnside is Scotland's greatest living writer and this memoir, a follow-up to the splendid A Lie About My Father, doesn't disappoint.
What elevates his recall of dark days trying to recover from drug and alcohol abuse is a self-awareness that never becomes navel-gazing, and a philosophising on the nature of existence that never descends into preaching. After leaving a mental hospital, Burnside decides that suburbia will save him and he heads for Surbiton to reinvent himself and experience a basic nine-to-five existence.
What he finds, though, is not the narrative he seeks but "an emaciated idea of normal" that challenges his search for a sane environment. Burnside's humour and compassion are the marks of his survival.
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Crystal meth addict 'gouged out his eyes and ate them' while high on drug, Australian MP claims
- 2 As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
- 3 The ten most unequal developed countries in the world
- 4 Saudi Arabia 'seeking to head United Nations Human Rights Council'
- 5 Toddler throws a tantrum at the White House – in front of Barack Obama
Cannes Film Festival rejects women from red-carpet screening of pro-LGBT romance 'Carol' for not wearing high heels
Game of Thrones rape scene criticised as 'disgusting' by US senator Claire McCaskill who says she's 'done' with show
Beyonce angers fans by pouring expensive champagne into hot tub in Nicki Minaj 'Feeling Myself' video
Mad Men, TV review: Perfect harmony? Not quite, but an enlightening finale for Don Draper
Theresa May accused of seeking to introduce state censorship of the media by Cabinet colleague Sajid Javid
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
Report finds that Britain's wages are the most unequal in Europe
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Gay marriage 'Bert and Ernie' cake bakery found guilty of discrimination in Northern Ireland