Why Ever Did I Want to Write
Patchwork of a writing life

Why ever did I want to write?
1 Igee
The stars look down
2 Fred
Flip-flap fatherhood
3 Hampstead
Secret gardens
4 Hoddesdon and Broxbourne
Being bonsaied
5 Sasha
If you had any brains you’d be a half-wit
6 University
The wonderful world of wisdom and of folly
7 The Hippie Trail
Finding oneself, and what I found
8 New Zealand/Chile
New pastures, deeper places
9 The Three Ms
Three experiences of love
10 Theatre
On and off stage
11 Work
A real place in the real world
12 Goldsmith Identity
Memento Dolly, memento Vera
13 Photography
The pleasure of the lens
14 Brazil
A New World of adventures
15 Bel
Why one relationship proved fruitful

Why Ever Did I Want to Write is a patchwork of themed stories about one man’s early life, embracing highs and lows but driven by a desire to make the most of being alive, to experience, to feel, and above all to understand. Reminiscent of Karl Knausgaard’s “A Death in the Family” and Theodore Zeldin’s “An Intimate History of Humanity”, this memoir sees Lyons reflecting on a repressed childhood, exploring the world through years of travelling, and searching for meaning and excitement in the arts and love affairs – an archetype of the counterculture in the 1970s and 1980s.

Lyons remembers little of his young life, a striking admission for a memoirist, yet the consistent thread here is the bedrock of his extensive and lively diaries. It is through these, and partly because of them, that he moves inexorably towards writing as a way of life: not only in his existential search, to understand himself and his place in society, but to earn a living, and as an outlet for his creative self.

In the early chapters, Lyons employs family letters to uncover uncomfortable details about his grandfather – a film producer once on Hitler’s hit list – as well as the disquieting immaturity of his natural ‘flip-flap’ father and the stifling influence of his stepfather. Later chapters follow him on the hippie trail, into the alternative theatre world, through a shattering breakdown, and to fresh adventures in Rio de Janeiro as a freelance journalist. This rich and thoughtful memoir concludes with Lyons on the cusp of fatherhood, determined not to follow in the footsteps of either of his fathers.

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