‘Saved by the book’ by Erwin James

rsz_2john460x276Mike Scott found this Story from 2008 in the Guardian. Not only has the subject of the article, John Healy, a stirring recovery story, but also the author of the article, Erwin James.

‘It’s 20 years since the publication of The Grass Arena, the autobiography of an alcoholic vagrant who, against the odds, found redemption in prison through chess. Now it is being lauded as a modern classic. Erwin James, whose own life was transformed by John Healy’s tale, catches up with the author.

Some books have the power to change the way you think about life. In my case one such book was The Grass Arena, the autobiography of John Healy. First published by Faber in 1988 and now republished as a Penguin Modern Classic, Healy’s visceral account of his decade and a half as a wino vagrant among London’s feral underclass in the 60s and 70s – and his redemption through chess and writing – brought me hope in dark times.

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