John Healy presents his novel: ‘The Metal Mountain’

After surviving a violent childhood, at 16, John Healy was a national amateur boxing champion and also a chronic alcoholic. Pressed into the army he went AWOL and unrecaptured was transferred to a penal battallion. After discharge he spent 15 spent violent years in a wino jungle. Under a medieval vagrancy laws where begging carried a mandatory orison sentence of between one to three years. During one prison stretch one a fellow inmate known as Harry the Fox taught him to play chess. He stopped drinking an won ten major British chess tournaments. In exhibitions John could play 30 opponents simultaneously and four games whilst wearing a blindfold. Eventually he wrote his memoir the Grass Arena which won the J R Ackerley award, Europe’s top prize for autobiography. Almost universally acclaimed it was adopted for film and the book and the film have over a dozen major international awards. This year his novel The Metal Mountain was finally published, which tells the story of Bridget Kelly who comes to live in post-war Kentish Town, and her nephew Michael, who is on a quest to keep ‘the metal mountain’, a mighty scrap heap. ‘A novel of vivid scenes poetical and mythical coupled with a sensuality of Rococo painting...’ As Dan Carrier put it: ‘John Healy’s work is at the pinnacle of memoir and fiction, his power as a storyteller should be celebrated - but also his role should not be overshadowed by the fact that he has a captivating way with words which shines through the pages of this beautifully lyrical novel. ‘

Come and hear a reading from this amazing new book and meet the man himself.

Thurs 19th 6.30pm | Archway Methodist Church  | £5