The Blue Suit: A Memoir of Crime

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9780395860052: The Blue Suit: A Memoir of Crime

"thoughtful as it is madcap"-The Nation, Richard Rayner performs an inspired act of retrieval to bring us one of the most extraordinary coming-of-age confessions ever written.

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Review:

Sleaze meets scholarship in this compelling combination of crisply sketched childhood miseries, Cambridge recollections, and compulsive stealing. The slightly offbeat title--a passing nod to crime classics--suggests there's a mystery to be solved, and indeed there is: the mystery of compulsive behavior. Rayner's compulsion is manifested in--among other things--his relationship with books. He is a book collector, although the term collector hardly does him justice: he has " ... bookcases stuffed with first editions" by the likes of Byron, Leslie Marchand, Frank O'Hara, and Raymond Chandler. "I'm obsessed with books," he says, "and I'd accumulated more than three thousand since we'd been here, to add to the eight thousand back in London and the mere thousand in Yorkshire, where I was born." Rayner steals books compulsively, as if they will supply him with a sense of identity.

First published in 1995, Rayner's recollection begins in the present time but travels far beyond; the understated, candid prose builds terrific suspense as he unearths the details of his life, from childhood--the three-year stint in a turreted Victorian boarding school in Northern Wales--to young adulthood, and reveals his very peculiar brand of thievery. It's a poignant and bizarre exploration of self-loathing and subsequent redemption.

About the Author:

Richard Rayner, a frequent contributor to Granta, the New York Times Magazine, and other publications, lives in Los Angeles.

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