The Grass Arena: An Autobiography (Penguin Modern Classics)

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The Grass Arena: An Autobiography (Penguin Modern Classics)

The Grass Arena: An Autobiography (Penguin Modern Classics)

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Healy was born into an impoverished, Irish immigrant family, in the slums of Kentish Town, North London. Out of school by 14, pressed into the army and intermittently in prison, Healy became an alocholic early on in life. Despite these obstacles Healy achieved remarkable, indeed phenomenal expertise in both writing and Chess, as outlined in the autobiographical The Grass Arena.

The author's writing is raw and honest, there's no sugar coating and he never asks for our sympathy. Beside it, a book like Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London seems a rather inaccurate tourist guide' If you enjoyed The Grass Arena, you might like Last Exit to Brooklyn, also available in Penguin Modern Classics. Condition: Good. Item in good condition. Textbooks may not include supplemental items i.e. CDs, access codes etc.


The greatest benefit Healy gained might have been its cathartic quality. This Penguin Modern Classic republished the first edition that was prematurely pulled from print by the piqued boss of the publishing house. Characteristically Healy had said what he’d thought about him. Time and again one is appalled by the pleasure The grass Arena furnishes as literature, when it is so clearly not fiction. And this sense of the reader#s dilemma as a priviledged observer in a world of casual savagery that is palpably real is a troubling and thouroughly enriching one' -- John Kemp Literary review Jon Healy, born 1943 to Irish immigrants, took to vagrancy, alcholism and crime, almost directly from the time he left home at 14. While in prison, Healy discovers chess. He trades his alcohol for chess and later becomes a chess champion.

OK I’ve changed the 4 stars to 5, mainly because I’ve been sat thinking about this again, and can’t get the voice, its insistence on truth and its brutal depiction of the world of the vagrant alcoholic out of my head. This is one of the milder episodes: ‘We could get no water to mix with it [surgical spirit], so we went in the church and filled a milk bottle out of the holy water font and started slowly to swallow it. But it’s hard to get down first thing in the day – any time for that matter. Bastard stuff. It either makes you dead sleepy and fit for nothing or drives you mad and ready to kill some cunt.’ I saw an arts programme with a bunch of London showbiz luvvies singing the praises of a noble-savage type character called John Healy and his ‘wonderful’ autobiography ‘The Grass Arena’. On the one hand I was intrigued, on the other hand I know that London always bigs-up London (boxing and football being good examples of undeserved reputations) so I approached the book with trepidation.A remarkable book. Many have written about addiction but none to my mind from a position so deeply rooted in the abyss as Healy, not even Bukowski and certainly not Burroughs. The story of the author, who lived as a complete alcoholic vagrant for years and had many brushes with death, then finds redemption in prison through chess and strides out of the gutter, is one of the most life-affirming things I think I have ever read.

  • Fruugo ID: 258392218-563234582
  • EAN: 764486781913
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