Stuart: A Life Backwards by Alexander Masters - review by James Morrison

James Morrison

A Tipping Point

Stuart: A Life Backwards


Fourth Estate 290pp £12.99

Stuart: A Life Backwards is a peculiar book. Billed as the story of ‘an extraordinary friendship between a reclusive writer and illustrator … and a chaotic, knife-wielding beggar’, it is part biography, part social commentary, and, one suspects, at least part fiction.

Stuart Shorter, its eponymous anti-hero, is a self-proclaimed outcast who has spent his thirty-odd years limping from one institution to another, his stints in care and at Her Majesty’s pleasure separated by bouts of homelessness and drug addiction, bungled robberies, and seemingly random explosions of violence.

Masters, who meets Stuart while

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