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A preparation for death

'Traditional autobiography is composed after the experience has passed. I wrote this book in the very panic of the experiences that inspired it ... ' In his early thirties, Greg Baxter found himself in a strange place. He hated his job, he was drinking excessively, he was sabotaging his most important relationships, and he was no longer doing the thing he cared about most: writing. Strangest of all, at this time he started teaching evening classes in creative writing - and his life changed utterly. A Preparation for Death is a document of the chaos and discovery of that time and of the experiences that led Greg Baxter to that strange place - an extraordinarily intimate account of literary failure (and its consequences), personal decay, and redemption through reading, writing, and truth-telling. Studded with vivid, loving portraits of the people closest to him - his Austrian grandmother, who narrowly survived the Second World War; his mother and father, both described with heartbreakingly close attention; and his cousin Walter, whose own demons provide a striking counterpoint to the author's - it is above all a stunningly vivid and searching self-portrait: possibly the most honest book you'll ever read.

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