In their own words or from the pen of a biographer, the lives of others hold a magnetic intrigue. Indulge your curiosity here… Read and find out more about the lives of well-known figures.
I have to fervently echo Johnny Deppâ€™s view when I say â€œI loved this book!â€. It is absolutely brilliant. I knew nothing about â€œFattyâ€ Arbuckle yet found myself utterly engrossed with this story from the very start. Written as though Fatty himself is telling you his story, the character comes to life and his no-holds-barred storytelling style captures you from the word go. He can be heart-wrenchingly touching, pungently witty, darkly sarcastic and downright hilarious. While the book offers a fascinating insight into the 1920s Hollywood scene â€“ the drugs, the parties, the movie politics, the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton â€“ it is ultimately a superbly human and absorbing tribute to the man behind the fat-suit.
A 2011 World Book Night selection. Read the endorsements on the cover and believe them, this is truly a tragic and unique biography. I love the style, right from the start you are caught up in this strange story and then I love the story itself. Although love is perhaps not the most appropriate word, for this is a tale of violence, crime, prison and alcohol as Alexander transcribes Stuart’s life – backwards. Funny, immensely sad and at times startling, it reads like fiction. Winner of the Guardian First Book Award and shortlisted for the Whitbread Biography Award (won by Hilary Spurling’s brilliant Matisse), I urge you to try it. A "Piece of Passion" from the publisher... This extraordinary book – winner of the Guardian First Book Award and adapted into a BBC film starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hardy – is a glimpse of the underbelly of English society, a world largely hidden from our lives. It is the story of a remarkable friendship between a reclusive writer and illustrator (‘a middle class scum ponce, if you want to be honest about it, Alexander’) and a chaotic, knife-wielding beggar. Told backwards, it shows how Stuart changed from a happy-go-lucky little boy into a thief, addict, alcoholic and sociopath street raconteur. Funny, despairing, uplifting, brilliantly-written, it is one of the most original biographies of recent years. Our Editorial Guru, Sarah Broadhurst, has suggested others book and authors that would be perfect for you to read next or to pass on the recommendation - so your gift will keep on giving enjoyment. Her selection for this title is: Lorna Sage(Bad Blood).
This is a tragic story about the authorâ€™s upbringing in the 1950â€™s; an only child of Jewish refugees who had escaped from Nazi Germany to England. For virtually all of her childhood, Ruth Josephâ€™s mother had anorexia and with her father always â€˜away on businessâ€™ she became the sole carer to her mother, Judith, whose illness spiralled ever downwards until her untimely death aged 46. It is a harrowing read; as Judith starves and withers away, she forces her daughter Ruth to eat, who is then herself, filled with self-loathing for her own bloated body. The relationship between mother and daughter is intense and it is heart-rending to see that despite all the love that existed between them, there was so much unhappiness, pain and deception. It is a relief to the reader that Ruth finally escapes the claustrophobia of this terrible family situation and moves on but the anguish of her choices is only too apparent. Very moving.
Reviewed on Richard and Judy on 1 February 2006. If you have any feeling for the land this will touch you. I was immensely impressed. Richard was brought up on a Yorkshire farm and escaped to become a journalist in London. He returned to help with the sale that was forced upon his family. This charts that, the aftermath and the sadness. It’s a personal portrait of the changes in agriculture, as he reflects on his isolated childhood, spotted with humour, wonderful characters, incidents and drama. It is extraordinarily hard-hitting. You can read it as a charming country tale or as the tragedy that it is. As a farmer’s daughter I was enormously affected.
Imagine going out with everyone who asked you for a whole year. This is exactly what Maria Headley did when she vowed to say yes to everyone for the next twelve months, with hilarious results. Dates with women, colleagues, men she meets in supermarkets and anyone even vaguely suitable (or not, as it turns out) ensue in a bid to find love. A fun read.
A convincing and impressive fictional account using known facts, to portray the life of Isaac Rosenberg, a poet and painter most famous for his provocative poems from the trenches in World War One. The author portrays a socially inept and awkward Rosenberg with a hidden inner core of strength and an ability to see beyond the obvious, to voice thoughts and feelings hidden from the readers comprehension until exploring his work. Although detailing the entirety of his short life, it’s the stark reality of the trenches that’s the real eye-opener, leaving you with the question of what happens to creativity when it can’t continue to comprehend the brutal reality of war. Containing excerpts of letters and poems, this moving book helps to create a link, a connection, a bond to Rosenberg and this eloquent story deserves to be heard. ~ Liz Robinson For a taste of some World War One poetry from the trenches by Isaac Rosenberg then a great place to start is His Selected Poems and Letters.
Imagine yourself as a female soldier in Iraq. Love My Rifle More Than You brings home with vivid intensity and empathy the experience of just that. Itâ€™s aggressively raw, real and unblinkingly candid on the violence, the death up close, the boredom, the fear as well as the more light-hearted moments and perhaps most importantly what itâ€™s like to be surrounded by an ocean of testosterone and being variously described as a soldier, a sister, a mother, a bitch and a slut. Itâ€™s unputdownable.
I don’t know why one is still completely fascinated by this over-written subject and how, although we all know what happened, it still holds us. This, as the title implies, covers the closing period of the life of a very unpleasant man, with a disappointing heir and a court full of gold-diggers and schemers.
Neil is a fiction author of some note whose last book, Always the Sun, was longlisted for the Man Booker and while writing it he was inspired to turn to his own tortured childhood, of which this is the result so it has the feel of fiction but because it is true, it of course is inconclusive. One is left wondering what happened next but that, to me, is its only fault, if indeed one can call it a fault for this is a genuinely compelling and heartrending story of a confused young life.
An account of a young man progressing from handyman to assistant to bed fellow of Dr Kinsey, he of the startling sexual report of the 50s and recent subject of the film, Kinsey. How much is factual is not stated. Dr Kinsey comes over as a fanatical worker dominating all those around him and the whole work is vaguely porny, highly readable and good fun.Comparison: John Updike, Tom Wolfe, Jay McInerney.Similar this month: None but youâ€™ll probably enjoy Susan Barker.
Whether you've read the author's Angela's Ashes and 'Tis or not, this stands alone as a wonderful piece of writing. Teacher Man details the author's illustrious, amusing and sometimes rather bumpy ride as an English teacher in the public high schools of New York City.
Informative and moving Hotel Tiberias is a journey of many layers and resonances, as the author follows the tumultuous story of his family and the family’s hotel (the building of it was financed by the Thomas Cook) in the town of Tiberias on the edge of the Sea of Galilee during the first half of the 20th century. The hotel’s beginnings at the time of the Ottoman Empire are intertwined with that of the author’s family, through the first world war and the creation of the territory of Palestine; its prosperity under British rule until after the second world war when the hotel was confiscated by the state of Israel is gripping stuff and thoroughly absorbing.
From the Horse’s Mouth
… or the Groom’s
There are people who just read biographies, interested only in the details of the lives of real people. There are others, like us, who enjoy dipping a toe, every now and then, into the deep inviting waters of the biography pool, to see first-hand the experiences of a person, past or present, who captures our imagination or pique’s our interest. From the First Man on the Moon to the latest winner of a jungle-based reality TV programme; sport-star to leading politician; religious leader to Arctic explorer, the choice is vast!
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