2001 - Smith Settle
Stan Barstow has been writing since the mid-fifties, and has been a full-time writer since 1962. This entertaining memoir surveys his life, from his childhood in Horbury in Yorkshire to the present day. It covers his school-life (he wasn’t exactly a model pupil!), his drawing-office work and the start of his writing career, his decision to write full-time and his career since then.
Having read all of Stan Barstow’s novels and short stories, I found that I was enjoying his autobiography on two levels. He is a wonderful story-teller, and he has an interesting story to tell. But I also found it fascinating to discover the similarities between the stories he has written and the life he has lived. That is not to say that his books are in any way autobiographical; but from reading In My Own Good Time, it is clear how much he has drawn from his own life. It’s nice to spot the similarities – for example, his father’s name is Wilfred, and Wilf Cotton is the hero of Ask Me Tomorrow; his father played the cornet in the pit band, and Vic Brown’s father played the trombone in the band; one of Stan Barstow’s friends in the drawing office leaves after a row about his pay; a similar incident occurs in A Kind of Loving. The effect is that it’s as if you’re hearing someone you know quite well tell you the story of his life – it’s somehow familiar all the way through, but still very entertaining.
There are some parts of the book where he skirts round the details; for example, there is some trouble in his marriage during the sixties, but there is no clear indication as to exactly what happens. But overall there is more than enough in this book to satisfy Stan Barstow’s many fans, and I’d thoroughly recommend it.
Extracts from In My Own Good Time
Press and Internet News coverage:-
The book was launched on October 24th 2001 at an event at the National Museum of Photography, Film and TV in Bradford.
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