Thursday, November 17, 2016

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning-Alan Sillitoe

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning-Alan Sillitoe

the facts
satisfaction: up
pages: 192
gender: M
nationality: UK
year: 1951
novel (rerelease)

Arthur is a lathe worker who has little care for authority all day and spends his nights drinking in the moment.


I lived in Sheffield for a number of years and though I knew mostly educated non-steelworkers, the industry and its people were a very proud legacy. Though Sillitoe is writing about Birmingham, I feel like this working class experience was shared across the industrial Northern cities as it tied together so much of the facts of the industry of the 19-20th centuries with the folk bravado remaining in the songs and drinking habits and gave it a human face. Our Arthur is surprisingly likable despite his self-centeredness and really not giving a flying f--- about other people. He is the typical young industrial worker-binge drinking his paycheck away and out to cheat the world before it cheats him. But Arthur is not dull or an idiot, he is simply a young man of his time. He muses on his father (a rather sad figure), the future that awaits him and says nope, and lives as much in the present as possible with whoever he can. Yet there's also an inevitability, he knows the future will catch up to him, he'll find the girl to settle down with and marry and maybe it'll be alright anyway. Much of his anger seems to stem from the inevitability of his life. He's proud of his work and good at it but keeps himself down because it's not like his paycheck will be better or he'll be able to rise through the ranks. He spends his paycheck on drinking because who knows if saving it would actually mean he could buy what he wants/needs. He uses people because he's used all week anyway. This is angry young (white) man lit for sure with a proto-punk unconsciousness but Sillitoe writes it well. The voice of Arthur is enjoyable and the pacing suits the novel. Perhaps not much actually happens but Arthur is a different person anyway.
I heartily recommend it.

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