Born Yesterday: The News as a Novel by Gordon Burn - review by D J Taylor

D J Taylor

Only Connect

Born Yesterday: The News as a Novel

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Faber & Faber 215pp £16.99 order from our bookshop
 

As an anatomy of the criminal mind, Somebody’s Husband, Somebody’s Son (1984), Gordon Burn’s account of the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe, took some beating. ‘Anatomy of the criminal mind’ isn’t quite right, in fact, as Burn’s achievement was to construct not simply a study of an individual and the horrors he committed but a piece of dramatised sociology, in which Sutcliffe’s crimes were tracked unerringly back to the West Yorkshire environment that produced them and some of the wider assumptions – principally to do with women and violence – that lay at their core.

But the qualities that make Burn such an A-grade writer of non-fiction and Sunday-supplement journalism – his eye for detail, his sensitivity to twitches on the causative thread – don’t necessarily render him an equally good novelist. The North of England Home Service (2003), his last piece of fiction, threatened

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