Wednesday, 15 July 2009

US review for the Alan Sillitoe biography

Quoted below is edited text of a review for The Life of a Long Distance Writer from American magazine World Literature Today. Richard Bradford's biography of Philip Larkin First Boredom, Then Fear is currently being featured in Waterstones recent promotion.

"Richard Bradford's authorized biography, The Life of a Long-Distance
Writer, draws extensively on Sillitoe's voluminous private papers as
well as extensive interviews to present a remarkable narrative of
Sillitoe's life and to assert a compelling argument for his central
importance in English literature of the last fifty years."

"In contrast to Roger Lewis's splenetic, vituperative biography of
Anthony Burgess (2004), which cataloged its subject's flaws while
ignoring the most "writerly" aspects of Burgess's phenomenally prolific
life, Bradford's biography deftly makes Sillitoe's daily writing routine
central, even in his introduction. His claim that Sillitoe's "fiction .
. . is extraordinarily good: quixotic, magnetic, and unimprovable" and
"that Sillitoe can lay claim to being the most accomplished practitioner
of [the] genre of the last fifty years" may quite intentionally provoke
much-needed debate about, and reappraisal of, Sillitoe's literary
standing. Bradford will get no dissent about that from me, and this
thoughtful, eminently readable biography makes his case formidably."

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