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Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky is the ultimate novel about pubs- the places where many of us spend our twenties, watching people come and go.
An ex-journalist and social worker, Bernard Hare returns home to the East End of Leeds where he encounters Urban Grimshaw, a pre-pubescent glue-sniffing lad, and his group of friends who have dropped out of society and mainly live in a shed.
Even the Dogs opens with the image of a man’s body being carried out of a broken-down house in the quiet days between Christmas and the New Year- but who’s the semi-homeless man, Robert, and who’s telling his story?
Alexander Masters’ book is a backwards biography of a homeless addict, Stuart Shorter, who lived on the streets of Cambridge. Tellingly, the backwards element was Stuart’s idea.
‘In the middle of the journey of our life / I found myself in a dark wood, / for I had lost the right path.’
‘Broken nose. Loose teeth. Cracked ribs. Broken finger. Black eyes.