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The Grass Arena Paperback – International Edition, July 29, 2008


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About the Author

Healy was born into an impoverished, Irish immigrant family, in the slums of Kentish Town, North London. Out of school by 14, pressed into the army and intermittently in prison, Healy became an alocholic early on in life. Despite these obstacles Healy achieved remarkable, indeed phenomenal expertise in both writing and Chess, as outlined in the autobiographical The Grass Arena.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classic (July 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141189592
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141189598
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,005,056 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Ira Abrams on May 2, 2007
Format: Paperback
To read this book is to become more fully human. I found it quite by accident browsing in the H section of a used bookstore after I could not find the book I wanted in the Ks. I became engrossed in it right away and could hardly stop thinking about the experience of reading it for another week. I am trying to restrain myself for credibility's sake, but my actual sense is that this is one of the most powerful books I have ever read.

Grass Arena is the most dreadfully and touchingly real presentation of the life of the homeless that I have ever come across. It does not really fit any category we have for books. It is certainly not a story. It is an immersion into a world that few or none who read the work will ever even touch. At the same time, the work is a poem, spare and sketched like a Japanese landscape. It is hard to believe it was written by a person with almost no formal education. And yet, that's part of why it is probably like this. Healy has none of the bad habits that educated writers pick up from thinking of themselves as WRITERS.

My feeling at the end of the read was that my little ideas of what is human had been blown away. If you are tired of books that simply play tricks with the balance between style and substance, this is for you. It is also about to be reissued by an Irish publisher--I can't remember the name right now but I stumbled across it on the web.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By John Keenan on March 25, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
John Healey has written a remarkable account of his days as a homeless "wino" in 1950's London. The son of poor Irish immigrants, he enters young adulthood in a psychologically crippled state and turns to the drink for relief. He drags the reader at a dizzying pace through the daily episodes and escapades as he interacts with other down-and-outs in their vicious search for their next drink. You hardly have time to draw breath as you are dragged helter-sklelter, pell-mell, through the violence, backstabbing, cheating, begging, police brutality, and prison stretches that make up his daily life. Finally, during a longish prison stretch, he manages to replace one addiction with another when he is introduced to the game of chess. He swears off drink in order to play chess at which he proves to be an adept. As well as been an outlet for his aggression, his chess prowess gains him entry into a bewildering middle class world. And then this obsession in turn is crowded out by a love for a woman. A woman above his class that, despite his feelings of inadequacy, sends him chasing off to India....
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Rogerio P. Santos on August 3, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is very well written and it will be specially interesting if you have any knowledge of chess, but if you don't, nevermind: the book is just very good anyway!

It is very impressive not only by the story itself, but by the captivating style.

You will start reading and then get addicted till the very last page!
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By rod on June 13, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
could not leave it down, Real, highly recommend it to anyone, i can relate to so much of this story and get lost in it as if i'm there
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