Basil Street Blues

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Publisher: Abacus

Released Date: 2004

ISBN: 9780349111346

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The distinguished biographer of Lytton Strachey and Bernard Shaw turns his trained eye on his kin in a thoughtful work that is as much a meditation on the nature of biography as a family memoir. Basil Street Blues has its origins in recollections Michael Holroyd asked his parents to write in the late 1970s, long after their 12-year marriage had ended. They agreed about little, not even the date of their son's birth in 1935, and Holroyd probes these discrepancies with the same brisk lucidity he has brought to subjects less intimately connected to his own life. Readers accustomed to the woe-is-me authorial stance frequently assumed in currently fashionable memoirs of familial dysfunction will be surprised by the impartial sympathy and considerable humor with which Holroyd depicts the financial, social, and sexual missteps of his parents, grandparents, and other relatives. Perhaps it's Anglo-Saxon stoicism inherited from his British father, perhaps the Scandinavian fatalism of his Swedish mother, but Holroyd has an impressive ability to view even his own youthful unhappiness with calm detachment. His elegantly written chronicle of "secret episodes and half-suspected dramas" nicely achieves its declared purpose: "to pare back a little the cuticle of time and to apply the research methods I have learnt as a biographer to my own life." --Wendy Smith 

Author: Michael Holroyd

Publisher: Abacus

Released Date: 2004

ISBN: 9780349111346

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