Tag Archives: Memoir

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

10 Jan

I picked “The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating” by Elisabeth Tova Bailey up last year at a book fair at my local library.  This slim volume has sat on my shelf waiting for an opportune few moments to browse it.  I decided to give it a go last night and was enraptured from the first page.

Two words describe this book: charming and enchanting.

When Elisabeth Tova Bailey contracts a virus that leaves her bedridden with an auto immune disease, a friend brings her an unusual present:  a flower pot of woodland violets and a small snail.

On the surface a book about snail watching hardly seems interesting, but Elisabeth’s observations paired with interesting scientific information about gastropods turns this book from an oddity into a delightful, beautiful, soul enriching book.

“The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating” is a gentle, moving, read.  You will find yourself with tears in your eyes at times.

Highly recommended.

Spectacles

6 Mar

A couple of years ago I came across “Great British Bake Off” whilst flicking through the television channels.

I was immediately taken by the batty, but incredible, humour of one of the hosts.  A little research, via Google, informed me that the lady in question was Sue Perkins.

So having become a devoted GGBO watcher (well, I would be if freeview TV in Australia would play more than one series on constant repeat – it’s like Groundhog Day with icing), when I learned that Sue had written her memoir, “Spectacles”, I had to get a copy.

I was not disappointed.  She freely admits that names have been changed, and much embroidery added, but Sue paints a wonderful picture of a cheerfully disfunctional family (by society’s standards), that actually functions very well indeed.

Sue Perkins presents a warts and all look at her life, even if you do find yourself laughing when, deep inside, you feel you should possibly be crying instead.

“Spectacles” is warm, intelligent, and extremely funny.  If you only read one celebrity memoir this year, then make it this one.

Highly recommended.

As Luck Would Have It

24 Jun

Sir Derek Jacobi has been a favourite actor of mine ever since I saw him in the BBC production of Shakespeare’s Richard II.

His autobiography “As Luck Would Have It” is as warm and as sweet as you would expect from this lovely man.

He is open and honest about his career and his personal problems, but at no point does he invite you to feel sorry for him.  It’s very much “this is me; this is what happened”.  No excuses and no bullshit.

“As Luck Would Have It” is also chock-a-block with delightful theatrical anecdotes and bon mots.  I was reduced to helpless giggles many times during my reading of the book.

In many ways “As Luck Would Have It” is a throwback to the old style of theatrical memoir.  It has a warm, friendly feel to it, lots of wonderful stories, and no decorating of other actor’s shoulder blades with metaphorical knife hilts, as has become so common in recent years.

His recollections of the four times he played Hamlet make for wonderful reading for any dedicated Shakespeare aficionado.

I can’t recommend “As Luck Would Have It” highly enough.  I think it would be of particular interest to those interested in English theatre, the early days of the National Theatre, those who enjoy a good, old fashioned memoir, and fans of Sir Derek.

Shatner Rules

16 Mar

As a memoir and a humourous one, “Shatner Rules” is a good read.  There are two things that prevent it from being a great read.  The first one is William Shatner’s ego, which brings to mind the line from Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy “If there’s anything more important than my ego around here, I want it caught and shot now.”

The second one is the repeated attacks on George Takei.  Yes, I know the two men don’t get on. Yes, I know that in the opinions of many, George started it.  That is beside the point.  The repeated snarking just comes across as petty and pathetic and detracts from the humour of the book.  And, to be frank, makes William Shatner look more like a whining 3 year old than the octogenarian he is.

And the book is humourous.  Absolutely laugh out loud funny in many places.  The book managed to reduce me to helpless giggles on many occasions.

William Shatner also had much to say on the subject of growing old, and most of it is thought provoking and shows the true depths of the man.

I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to all Star Trek fans, but they’ve probably all ready read it.

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