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Life is a Four-Letter Word:
The first part of the autobiography, Breaking In, is of one of the most successful writers of the twentieth century, Nicholas Monsarrat. Monsarrat describes his privileged childhood in Liverpool, where his father was the greatest surgeon of his time, recalling all the small details of a provincial upbringing. The account of his days at public school are acidly described, and in remarkable contrast to his golden days at Cambridge, where he enjoyed good friends, good wine, and little work. At twenty-three, Monsarrat turned his back on his comfortable family home, fled from the desk of his uncle's solicitor's office, and settled in a single, mildewed room in London, with a typewriter and a half-finished manuscript. There, he describes the years of learning to write, learning to live, and learning to loveinvaluable lessons for a future that comprised war, emigration, marital upheaval, and the hazards of artistic achievement. The second part, Breaking Out, takes us to the year in which Monsarrat produced the novel widely acclaimed as his finest, The Tribe That Lost Its Head; the year when he was living in Ottawa as chief of the British Information Services; the year he calls The Year of the Stupid Ox. As Monsarrat charts life with astonishing frankness, we are given a stunning portrait of this complex character, this brilliant storyteller. [via]