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Hardcover The Twinkling of an Eye or My Life as an Englishman Book

ISBN: 0316647063

ISBN13: 9780316647069

The Twinkling of an Eye or My Life as an Englishman

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Format: Hardcover

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Book Overview

All my past is accepted. Science fiction's most eloquent creator of visions of tomorrow, Brian Aldiss, spins out his most fascinating story yet: his own. Born in 1925, Aldiss is representative of the... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

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Absorbing and moving literary autobiography

It seems to me that the practice of the literary memoir is more prevalent in England than in the United States. At any rate, few distinguished English writers seem to escape autobiography. For me, the memoirs of writers I admire hold great interest, despite the usually somewhat mundane everyday lives of authors. There's something compelling about tracing the roots of a writer's imagination, and I also take gossipy interest in the accounts of meetings with other well-known writers that these books usually contain. And, to be sure, famous writers are usually good writers, and their memoirs are more likely to be well-written. The Twinkling of an Eye delivers on all counts: it is a very enjoyable literary autobiography. Brian W. Aldiss is a giant in the Science Fiction field. His major contributions are of course as a writer of the stuff (he's a winner of both the Hugo and the Nebula, and among his SF books are Hothouse, The Malacia Tapestry, and the Helliconia series). He's also made significant contributions as a critic/historian of the field (his controversial Billion Year Spree (later updated as Trillion Year Spree with David Wingrove) is his most famous work in this area.) But Aldiss has always been part of the main stream, if you will, of post-War British writing. His first book, The Brightfount Diaries, a comic account of working in a bookstore, was certainly not SF, but it was very successful. He worked for many years as Literary Editor of the Oxford Mail. And he had some non science fiction bestsellers in the late '60s and early '70s.A life is not a story, really. Thus Aldiss does not tell this book in a linear fashion, nor hew to a narrative structure. He opens with an account of heading off to Burma, to join the XIV Army, the "Forgotten Army", is driving the Japanese out of that country toward the end of World War II. Follows a series of chapters, ordered somewhat impressionistically, which tell of his young life, his less than idyllic experience in public schools, and of his somewhat difficult relationship with his parents. He offers a moving account of his early years, and how the birth of both of his sisters affected him deeply. Aldiss continues with a description of his years in the Army, mopping up the Japanese in Burma, then spending a couple of years in India just prior to independence, and in Sumatra. After leaving the Army, Aldiss moved to Oxford, and worked in a couple of bookshops. At this time he got married, sold his first stories, started writing the sketches which became The Brightfount Diaries, and had his first son.The rest of the book is a bit more episodic. The sections concerning his first marriage, and especially its breakup, are very moving, even as Aldiss is still understandably reticent on the details. The pain and sense of failure he felt, and the agony of losing his children, especially his new born daughter, are keenly portrayed. This dovetails into a period of depression and poverty, coupled with increasing
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