Book Reviews of Stuart: A Life Backwards

Stuart: A Life Backwards
Stuart A Life Backwards
Author: Alexander Masters
ISBN-13: 9780385340007
ISBN-10: 0385340001
Publication Date: 5/30/2006
Pages: 320
Rating:
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 8

4.1 stars, based on 8 ratings
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Book Type: Hardcover
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

10 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed Stuart: A Life Backwards on + 95 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Stuart, the focus of Alexander Masters' book, is as enigmatic and polarizing as real people tend to get. There is a reason that Masters introduces us to Stuart now, rather than beginning at the childhood that spawned this creature.

Stuart is akin to a horrific train wreck that you can not tear your eyes away from; he is scary and depressing, repulsive and untantalizing, yet somehow silumtaneously mesmerizing and endearing. You wouldn't want to share an elevator or a dark alley with this character, but you might somehow find yourself compelled to do so anyway. Not only to hear the outlandish tales of the chaos that Stuart has both wrought and endured, but for the occasionally glimpses of the wise and witty soul buried beneath layers of abuse, neglect, and self-loathing.

Masters takes the reader backwards through Stuart's life, exposing events as the occurred, then revealing events that laid the groundwork prior to them. Like an archeologist peeling back layer after layer of cultural sediment and fossilized civilizations, Masters removes the grimy layers of Stuart one anecdote at a time. By the time you reach the core of such a being, the young child faced with emotionally crippling systematic abuse, you can feel pity for the man's origins, but you still might not be able to bring yourself to forgive him for what that child has begun. That's probably how Stuart would like it.

Forwards or backwards, Stuart's life is an engrossing story worth reading. But reading it backwards, believe it or not, tends to make more sense.
reviewed Stuart: A Life Backwards on + 4 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Hysterical, depressing, optimistic, and shocking, and all completely true. Alexander Masters writes the true story (backwards) of Stuart, a homeless man living in England. He admits that there's no way to predict what's going to push a human being to the outside of society, but he certainly paints a picture of what COULD do it, and how even the dregs of society can sometimes have a strange nobility.
reviewed Stuart: A Life Backwards on + 17 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
A no-holds-barred look at the life of a man living among a certain class of homeless - "chaotic" homeless, who, as the title suggests, have multiple sources for their current problems. Masters does write Stuart's story backwards, in an approachable [not coldly journalistic] way. An emotional, eye-opening read.
reviewed Stuart: A Life Backwards on + 95 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Stuart, the focus of Alexander Masters' book, is as enigmatic and polarizing as real people tend to get. There is a reason that Masters introduces us to Stuart now, rather than beginning at the childhood that spawned this creature.

Stuart is akin to a horrific train wreck that you can not tear your eyes away from; he is scary and depressing, repulsive and untantalizing, yet somehow silumtaneously mesmerizing and endearing. You wouldn't want to share an elevator or a dark alley with this character, but you might somehow find yourself compelled to do so anyway. Not only to hear the outlandish tales of the chaos that Stuart has both wrought and endured, but for the occasionally glimpses of the wise and witty soul buried beneath layers of abuse, neglect, and self-loathing.

Masters takes the reader backwards through Stuart's life, exposing events as the occurred, then revealing events that laid the groundwork prior to them. Like an archeologist peeling back layer after layer of cultural sediment and fossilized civilizations, Masters removes the grimy layers of Stuart one anecdote at a time. By the time you reach the core of such a being, the young child faced with emotionally crippling systematic abuse, you can feel pity for the man's origins, but you still might not be able to bring yourself to forgive him for what that child has begun. That's probably how Stuart would like it.

Forwards or backwards, Stuart's life is an engrossing story worth reading. But reading it backwards, believe it or not, tends to make more sense.
reviewed Stuart: A Life Backwards on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
In "Stuart", Alexander Masters makes the homeless plight a true human condition. There is now a face and a name attached to the people of the streets. For myself, I will probably never see someone on the streets again without thinking about Stuart Shorter. Funny sometimes, tragic always, this book should be required reading for all people so that our culture might grow a heart that new, realistic programs may be developed to help these people that feel "irrelevant".
reviewed Stuart: A Life Backwards on + 95 more book reviews
Stuart, the focus of Alexander Masters' book, is as enigmatic and polarizing as real people tend to get. There is a reason that Masters introduces us to Stuart now, rather than beginning at the childhood that spawned this creature.

Stuart is akin to a horrific train wreck that you can not tear your eyes away from; he is scary and depressing, repulsive and untantalizing, yet somehow silumtaneously mesmerizing and endearing. You wouldn't want to share an elevator or a dark alley with this character, but you might somehow find yourself compelled to do so anyway. Not only to hear the outlandish tales of the chaos that Stuart has both wrought and endured, but for the occasionally glimpses of the wise and witty soul buried beneath layers of abuse, neglect, and self-loathing.

Masters takes the reader backwards through Stuart's life, exposing events as the occurred, then revealing events that laid the groundwork prior to them. Like an archeologist peeling back layer after layer of cultural sediment and fossilized civilizations, Masters removes the grimy layers of Stuart one anecdote at a time. By the time you reach the core of such a being, the young child faced with emotionally crippling systematic abuse, you can feel pity for the man's origins, but you still might not be able to bring yourself to forgive him for what that child has begun. That's probably how Stuart would like it.

Forwards or backwards, Stuart's life is an engrossing story worth reading. But reading it backwards, believe it or not, tends to make more sense.
reviewed Stuart: A Life Backwards on + 13 more book reviews
An interesting read that gives you a peak into the life and mentality of a homeless man and his struggles to get through the day and off the streets. I feel that people advocating for the homeless and working to help in this area should read this book to get insights about the homeless mentality so they can better incorporate that into the programs they develop. But then again, maybe they know this but just can't figure out how to make such changes. Although I often found the author a little annoying with all his complaining, I guess that is how most people view the homeless and so it is appropriate for the book. I am amazed at how trusting the author is with Stuart and that is great. I'm glad that he gave someone like Stuart a voice.
reviewed Stuart: A Life Backwards on + 95 more book reviews
Stuart, the focus of Alexander Masters' book, is as enigmatic and polarizing as real people tend to get. There is a reason that Masters introduces us to Stuart now, rather than beginning at the childhood that spawned this creature.

Stuart is akin to a horrific train wreck that you can not tear your eyes away from; he is scary and depressing, repulsive and untantalizing, yet somehow silumtaneously mesmerizing and endearing. You wouldn't want to share an elevator or a dark alley with this character, but you might somehow find yourself compelled to do so anyway. Not only to hear the outlandish tales of the chaos that Stuart has both wrought and endured, but for the occasionally glimpses of the wise and witty soul buried beneath layers of abuse, neglect, and self-loathing.

Masters takes the reader backwards through Stuart's life, exposing events as the occurred, then revealing events that laid the groundwork prior to them. Like an archeologist peeling back layer after layer of cultural sediment and fossilized civilizations, Masters removes the grimy layers of Stuart one anecdote at a time. By the time you reach the core of such a being, the young child faced with emotionally crippling systematic abuse, you can feel pity for the man's origins, but you still might not be able to bring yourself to forgive him for what that child has begun. That's probably how Stuart would like it.

Forwards or backwards, Stuart's life is an engrossing story worth reading. But reading it backwards, believe it or not, tends to make more sense.
reviewed Stuart: A Life Backwards on + 160 more book reviews
This book should come with a large, bright warning written across its cover for two reasons. First, since it was written in England and the vocabulary is distinctly British, as well as street slang, the words are difficult at times to understand. To this day, there are several that I've never figured out the meaning. The second warning would be for the constant crude language of the main character and all his cohorts. The reader simply must overlook the bad language in order to follow the story. That said, I found this biography to be very informative. I think it should be required reading for social workers on all levels. It looks at a person's true feelings dealing with homelessness, i.e. Stuart did not necessarily want to live in a shelter. I think this is true in most places, considering the requirement that the people there must remain alcohol and drug free. It is a barrier to many in this situation, and most of us do not understand that. In addition, it should be a huge warning of what can happen to children who are bullied and/or abused, as Stuart was from a very early age. D.
reviewed Stuart: A Life Backwards on + 12 more book reviews
I didn't really enjoy it. It wasn't very engaging and littered with lower class British slang. I've spent a good year plus of my life in England and still found myself repeatedly befuddled by the slang. I appreciate the author's committment to the homeless community, but didn't get much out of reading Stuart.