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A breathtakingly beautiful memoir of childhood

A moving, unforgettable memoir of two lost men: a father and his child.

He had his final heart attack in the Silver Band Club in Corby, somewhere between the bar and the cigarette machine. A foundling; a fantasist; a morose, threatening drinker who was quick with his hands, he hadn't seen his son for years. John Burnside's extraordinary story of this failed relationship is an exquisitely written evocation of a lost and damaged world of childhood and the constants of his father's world: men defined by the drink they could take and the pain they could stand, men shaped by their guilt and machismo..

A Lie About My Father is about forgiving but not forgetting, about examining the way men are made and how they fall apart, about understanding that in order to have a good son you must have a good father.


This account of a failed father-son relationship is written with extraordinary beauty and insight... His is a profound meditation on the life of the spirit, and the shadows we all carry in our hearts

Bel Mooney, The Times

marvellously written scenes...few people write more hauntingly... His prose has a poet's delicacy and fine-honed precision

Tim Jeal, Daily Telegraph

Anyone who has read Gosse, Ackerley or Tobias Wolff will know that big books can be made about small-time fathers. It's a tribute to Burnside that he maps this same territory and prompts these comparisons while creating a story that is uniquely his

Blake Morrison, Guardian

This is a haunting read that will linger long after you close the pages of this book

Michelle Stanistreet, Express

Destined to become a classic of Scots childhood... A beautiful read, but also a brutal one

Scotland on Sunday

Superbly written; poetic in the best sense, summoning up a world of terror and beauty

Literary Review

[An] exquisitely written memoir

Paul Bailey, Sunday Times

Burnside's prose is a delight...Memoir this good illuminates something larger than itself. It is an exercise in understanding compassion and forgiveness

Melanie McGrath, Sunday Telegraph

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Formats & editions

  • EBook


    December 1, 2010

    Vintage Digital

    336 pages

    Online retailers

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  • Paperback


    March 15, 2007


    336 pages

    RRP $22.99

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