Joe Moran

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If You Should Fail: A Book of Solace

book | Sep 2020
World → Viking (Ed. Daniel Crewe)


Do you ever feel like a failure?

Enter widely acclaimed observer of daily life Professor Joe Moran, 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. It's 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. We need more narratives of failure, and to see that not every failure can be made into a success - and that's OK.

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.


Reviews

What Moran has created is a slim, lyrical and blessedly cool-headed reflection on failure as a universally shared human trial. “It’s nothing to be ashamed of,” writes Moran in the book’s introduction, “but nothing to celebrate either. Mostly it’s just a waste of time, something none of us mortals ever has enough of.” 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

There is an honesty and a clarity in Joe Moran's book If You Should Fail that normalises and softens the usual blows of life that enables us to accept and live with them rather than be diminished/wounded by them


Julia Samuel, author of Grief Works and This Too Shall Pass

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 the most perceptive and original observer of British life that we have


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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Karolina Sutton
+44 (0)20 7393 4428
Email Karolina Sutton