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If You Should Fail

Why Success Eludes Us and Why It Doesn't Matter

Joe Moran



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11 November 2021
To fail is human. Get used to it . . .

Failure is the small print in life's terms and conditions.

Covering everything from examination dreams to fourth-placed Olympians, If You Should Fail is about how modern life, in a world of self-advertised success, makes us feel like failures, frauds and imposters. Widely acclaimed observer of daily life Joe Moran is here not to tell you that everything will be all right in the end, but to reassure you that failure is an occupational hazard of being human.

As Moran shows, even the supremely gifted Leonardo da Vinci could be seen as a failure. Most artists, writers, sports stars and business people face failure. We all will, and can learn how to live with it. To echo Virginia Woolf, beauty is only got by the failure to get it . . . by facing what must be humiliation - the things one can't do.

Combining philosophy, psychology, history and literature, Moran's ultimately upbeat reflections on being human, and his critique of how we live now, offers comfort, hope - and solace. For we need to see that not every failure can be made into a success - and that's OK.
Imprint:   Penguin
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 198mm,  Width: 129mm,  Spine: 11mm
Weight:   127g
ISBN:   9780241988107
ISBN 10:   0241988101
Pages:   176
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  ELT Advanced ,  Primary
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Joe Moran is Professor of English and Cultural History at Liverpool John Moores University and is the author of seven books, including Queuing for Beginners- The Story of Daily Life from Breakfast to Bedtime, Armchair Nation- An Intimate History of Britain in Front of the TV, Shrinking Violets- The Secret Life of Shyness and First You Write a Sentence. He writes for, among others, the Guardian, the New Statesman and the Times Literary Supplement.

Reviews for If You Should Fail: Why Success Eludes Us and Why It Doesn't Matter

A classic anti (or counter-intuitive) self-help treatise -- robustly argued, intellectually sturdy, laced with self-deprecatory humour... it is deeply empathetic to the trials of the creative life * Livemint * A beautifully written meditation on life's inevitable setbacks and what he sardonically terms the failing well movement . Moran encourages us to accept our impostor syndromes, to avoid becoming a sporting masochist for whom winning is everything, and to admire the history of West End musicals that were instant, notorious flops -- Steven Poole * Guardian Books of the Year * A calming antidote to the world of professionally failing... What Moran has created is a slim, lyrical and blessedly cool-headed reflection on failure as a universally shared human trial... What he provides, instead of the mechanical business strategies laid out in some popular failure titles, is a selection of fascinating and often moving lives, characterised in some way by their failure -- Megan Nolan * New Statesman * These stories are beautifully told, and they are comforting at first... Moran's compassion shines through this gift of a book -- Kieran Setiya * Literary Review * I really love Joe Moran's work, he writes with such generosity and kindness -- Tiffany Watt Smith Joe Moran is a wonderfully sharp writer, calm, precise and quietly comical -- Craig Brown * Mail on Sunday * Joe Moran is the most perceptive and original observer of British life that we have -- Matthew Engel Moran is a past master at producing fine, accessible non-fiction -- Helen Davies * Sunday Times * Moran is a wonderful, witty writer -- Marcus Berkmann * Daily Mail * A fascinating insight. Moran's honesty is brilliantly raw and uncomfortable at times, but under the apparently bleak message on the surface there is an uplifting truth to be found. For myself, the concept of failure has been redefined -- Matthew Parris Joe Moran is a brilliant historian. He makes the humdrum riveting -- Matthew Engel This is a deeply tender book, and full of wise insight and honesty. Moran manages to be funny, erudite and kindly: a rare - and compelling - combination. This is the essential antidote to a culture obsessed with success. Read it -- Madeleine Bunting

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