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The Art of Failing

Notes from the Underdog

Published by Oneworld Publications
Distributed by Simon & Schuster

An Observer book of the year

HAUNTED! By endless tiny humiliations.

STRUGGLING! To resurrect the corpse of his literary career.

ENSNARED! In a loving yet bamboozling marriage.

A man at odds with the universe, Anthony McGowan stumbles from one improbable fiasco to the next. On the mean streets of West Hampstead he reflects upon all that is at the heart of life itself – socks with holes, underwhelming packed lunches, broken washing machines, Kierkegaard, liver salts, British Library eccentricities and disapproving ladies on trains. In this chronicle of one man’s daily failures and disappointments, McGowan can’t help but speak his mind – with cringeworthy and hilarious results.

‘The funniest book was Anthony McGowan’s The Art of Failing, which alternates self-mocking slapstick with flashes of weirdness reminiscent of Gogol.’

– Observer, Books of the Year

‘He fails spectacularly successfully it has to be said. If cringe-worthy embarrassment were a superpower, Anthony would be an Avenger. It is Pepys’ diary if Pepys were a middle-aged, 21st-century Smiths fan with athlete’s foot. You’ll laugh and feel mild pity.’

– Matt Haig

‘Perfect to dip into for entertainingly bite-sized anecdotes.’

– Observer

’There is no sharper, funnier, cleverer writer in Britain today than Anthony McGowan.’

– Robert Twigger, author of Micromastery

'A book that will ultimately make you smile, and re-read'.

– BookBag

‘Humorously chronicles the quotidian frustrations, discomforts, and outright failures…faced over the course of one year… McGowan always brings a quirky and refreshing perspective… Entertaining.’

– Kirkus

‘A children’s book writer and school lecturer who swears like a sailor and adds smut wherever possible. McGowan’s as close to a Python character as one could reasonably fear. There’s no stereotyping Anthony McGowan.’

– San Francisco Review of Books

‘Consistently amusing, charming, and occasionally rather touching.’

– Big Issue

More books from this author: Anthony McGowan