A little over a week or so ago I finished up what could possibly be considered one of my favorite books: Saturday Night and Sunday Morning by Alan Sillitoe. Set in Nottingham in the 1950’s, this book provides an account of one young man, Arthur Seaton, in his early twenties who works at a lathe in a bicycle factory by day, and runs around causing trouble by night. This novel is grimy and quick, but also genuine and raw as Arthur, although perhaps more of a charming scoundrel than most, relates to any young person desperately trying to navigate through the tediousness of both love and work in everyday life. Arthur certainly does not have it all figured out, but no one else really seems to either. He openly admits to not even having himself figured out as he remarks, “though everybody might have the ability to weigh–up others, it never occurred to them to attempt a weighing-up of themselves” (43). Arthur’s wit in regards to knowing himself is relatable in any young twenty one year old and his daily and nightly struggles to figure himself out are both laughable and suspenseful.
Although he does not necessarily know what he is, Arthur knows precisely what he is not, and knows the importance of not submitting to others’ speculations as he says, “whatever people think I am or say I am, that’s what I’m not, because they don’t know a bloody thing about me” (138). Arthur Seaton is as relatable as a character comes in that he is whoever he believes he is and does not allow himself to be affected by others around him. By the end of the novel, after shaking up his life and nearly leaving it in shambles, he is able to pick up the pieces and figure it out piece by piece. There’s something to be admired in this scandalous, three-timing drunken young man that surprisingly has you rooting for him.
If you’re looking for the perfect soundtrack to listen to either while reading this novel, or in between chapters, listen to Arctic Monkey’s debut studio album Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, which is heavily influenced by the novel, both in the title which is a quote from the book, as well as the subject matter and sound. Many of the songs fit Arthur’s experiences to a T and the fast and loud sound of the album pairs perfectly with the overall setting of the various dirty bars and dimly lit streets that Arthur frequents.
Buy Saturday Night and Sunday Morning by Alan Sillitoe on Amazon here.
Listen to Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not by Arctic Monkeys on Spotify here.
Buy Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not by Arctic Monkeys on iTunes here.
Buy Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not by Arctic Monkeys on Amazon here.