A Life Discarded : 148 Diaries Found in a Skip
Unique, transgressive and as funny as its subject, A Life Discarded has all the suspense of a murder mystery. Written with his characteristic warmth, respect and humour, Masters asks you to join him in celebrating an unknown and important life left on the scrap heap. A Life Discarded is a biographical detective story. In 2001, 148 tattered and mould-covered notebooks were discovered lying among broken bricks in a skip on a building site in Cambridge. Tens of thousands of pages were filled to the edges with urgent handwriting. They were a small part of an intimate, anonymous diary, starting in 1952 and ending half a century later, a few weeks before the books were thrown out. Over five years, the award-winning biographer Alexander Masters uncovers the identity and real history of their author, with an astounding final revelation. A Life Discarded is a true, shocking, poignant, often hilarious story of an ordinary life. The author of the diaries, known only as 'I', is the tragicomic patron saint of everyone who feels their life should have been more successful. Part thrilling detective story, part love story, part social history, A Life Discarded is also an account of two writers' obsessions: of 'I's need to record every second of life and of Masters' pursuit of this mysterious yet universal diarist.
Praise for Stuart: A Life Backwards 'It's been years since I've been so delighted by a book and so surprised by it. When I'd finished I felt bereft, as if I'd lost an old friend' Zadie Smith 'I feel so strongly about this strange, funny, sad book that I hardly know where to begin. My enthusiasm feels almost limitless' Observer 'Funny and original, a startling book. By the end I was doubled up in tears, but throughout I was often doubled up with laughter. It is dazzling' Vogue Praise for Simon: The Genius in My Basement 'Astonishingly good ... a glorious book: funny, surprising and completely sui generis' Sunday Times 'Wholly original ... a wonderful book which shows you don't have to be 'normal' to be happy' Daily Mail 'Captivating ... Masters has managed to convey something of the beauty and mystery not just of mathematics but of the human spirit.' Sunday Telegraph
Alexander Masters' first book, Stuart: A Life Backwards, won the Guardian First Book Award, the Hawthornden Prize and was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize and the Costa Biography Prize. Eighteen different newspapers and popular magazines chose it as Book of the Year. It was turned into a BBC film starring Tom Hardy and Benedict Cumberbatch. Alexander lives in Sussex.