Childhood: A Memoir by Shannon Burns
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A breathtaking memoir that examines class, poverty, neglect, masculinity, and the transformative power of books
Things may have been good for a while, but it didn't last – they argued fiercely and he left. Weeks later, she tracked him down and said she was pregnant. So he moved back in with her and they prepared themselves for parenthood.
Eleven months later I was born. By the time my father discovered the deception, it was too late.
In his arresting memoir, Shannon Burns recalls a childhood spent bouncing between dysfunctional homes in impoverished suburbs, among families unwilling or unable to care for him. Aged nine, he beats his head against the pillow to get himself to sleep. Aged ten, he knows his mother will never be able to look after him – he is alone, and can trust no-one.
Five years later, he is working at a poorly paid, labour intensive job – but reading offers hope. Inspired by Greek lyric poets, Keats, Whitman, and the speeches of Martin Luther King, he recites their words of beauty and justice while sifting through filthy cans and bottles in the recycling centre. An affair with the mother of a schoolfriend eventually offers a way out, a path to a life utterly unlike the one he was born into.