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A Lie about My Father

4.06  ·  Rating Details  ·  123 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
A moving, unforgettable memoir of two lost men: a father and his child.

He had his final heart attack in the Silver Band Club in Corby, somewhere between the bar and the cigarette machine. A foundling; a fantasist; a morose, threatening drinker who was quick with his hands, he hadn't seen his son for years. John Burnside's extraordinary story of this failed relationship is
Paperback, 336 pages
Published March 1st 2007 by Vintage (first published March 2nd 2006)
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MJ Nicholls
Nov 17, 2009 MJ Nicholls rated it it was amazing
This is recommended for those seeking the quintessential evil father memoir. The father in this case is an alcoholic, a deadbeat and a Scottish hardman who mistreats his wife and son. The son (the author) then goes on a rebellious rampage of alcohol, sex and drugs. This culminates in a long spate of mental illness.

Uplifting? No. However, Burnside utilises a very poetic and compelling turn of phrase throughout, which lifts the antics from the potential whirlpool of navelgazing. He has a remarkabl
Sep 05, 2009 Joe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This man, (Burnside) writes like an angel. Or, the poet that he is. It's a memoir, and I will read anything he writes. Try him. You won't be sorry.
Feb 09, 2013 Henry rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful book. Honest, moving and magical. He never goes for cheap laughs, he never spins out an anecdote to make himself look good or his father look bad, he doesn't deal in self pity or in easy cliches, you sense that this is a painfully honest trawl for some sort of truth. i love John Burnside's poetry and i love his prose, an example, " learn to love yourself by loving the world around you. Because what we love in ourselves is ourselves loving."
Nov 12, 2008 Michele rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is imbued with sadness and regret but still,at the end,you are uplifted with something a little like hope and even forgiveness.
Aug 16, 2015 Steffi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: auto-biographies
Nachdem ich alle vier bislang übersetzten Romane von Burnside gelesen haben, blieben mir jetzt nur noch diese Autobiografie und ein zweisprachiger Band mit Gedichten. Interessant sind dabei die Motive, die in den Romanen wiederkehren. Anfangs wird ein Wald beschrieben, in dem Jugendliche Tiere quälen und sich Liebespaare treffen; die Szenerie erinnert ein wenig an Glister, ebenso wie die Bücher, die der Erzähler in Glister als Jugendlektüre ausführlich erwähnt, hier doch zumindest am Rande erwäh ...more
Jul 26, 2015 Amy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: haile-library
This was one of my Scottish themed books purchased for last Summer's Highlands Adventure. The first chapter held great promise that was only minimally filled by the following chapters. I was interested by the memoir of a young boy's relationship with his father and its lasting impact. Yet, I felt the last few chapters strayed through self-satisfying journeys and the wrap-up provided only a quick nod to the new father-son dynamic.
Eleonora Bianchini
The introduction is far more promising than the rest of the book. Some descriptions are really vague even if they go on for some pages. Yet, it is interesting to see how the the father character is developed, even if it seems to be close to some clichés.
Jan 14, 2012 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Do dysfunctional families make the best memoirs? Are happy, normal families bad fodder instead?
Nov 14, 2015 Anne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just wished that it would have had a happy ending. But you can't rewrite history.
Sylvain Richard
Très joli "roman". Pas facile d'abord toutefois, on a du mal à accrocher sur certaines parties je trouve (en particulier la 2e partie)
Sep 19, 2012 Unkunkel rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dropped
Wenn man auf den ersten 40 Seiten an zwei Tagen hintereinander einschläft, sollte man lieber mit einem anderen Buch anfangen.
Aug 14, 2015 Ceren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
one of the best pieces of literature I have read in recent years. very moving, sincere and insigthful.
Jul 22, 2007 Jenny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shameless plug for my advisor! A great read, a little disturbing.
Nov 10, 2011 Philippe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one i read in french, so I have no excuses...
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John Burnside is the author of nine collections of poetry and five works of fiction. Burnside has achieved wide critical acclaim, winning the Whitbread Poetry Award in 2000 for The Asylum Dance which was also shortlisted for the Forward and T. S. Eliot prizes. Born in Scotland, he moved away in 1965, returning to settle there in 1995. In the intervening period he worked as a factory hand, a labour ...more
More about John Burnside...

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“My father was one of those men who sit in a room and you can feel it: the simmer, the sense of some unpredictable force that might, at any moment, break loose, and do something terrible. [Burnside, p. 27]” 35 likes
“He lied all the time even when there was no need to lie [...] He needed a _history_, a sense of self. [Burnside on his father, p. 22]” 6 likes
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