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A Start In Life

by Alan Sillitoe

A Start In Life tells the story of Michael Cullen, who abandons his pregnant girlfriend and heads to the ‘lollipop-metropolis of London in the 1960s’. Cullen is, in theory, leaving his problems behind, but he is ‘the Devil on two sticks’ and becomes involved in a smuggling ring with Moggerhanger, a man who believes ‘that you must get anything you want no matter at what cost to others’. Cullen is an optimist, with an eye for the ladies, but his new swinging lifestyle is soon under threat.

This London Classics edition was published to mark author Alan Sillitoe’s eightieth birthday, and it comes with an introduction by the George Orwell biographer DJ Taylor. Famed for his ground-breaking Saturday Night And Sunday Morning and The Loneliness Of The Long-Distance Runner, Sillitoe was a writer who was constantly improving and honing his craft.

 

As DJ Taylor writes in his introduction: ‘Where A Start In Life most obviously outstrips its predecessors is in its sense of sheer scale. Unlike Saturday Night And Sunday Morning, it is an expansive, almost garrulous and above all literary novel, simultaneously showing the distance Sillitoe had travelled in his dozen years as a writer, but also the lasting importance to him of the world he had left behind.’

£11.99