An autobiography is an obituary in serial form with the last installment missing

i’m a big reader of both biographies and autobiographies – though my favourites have often been by ‘normal’ people like edwin wintle, augusten burroughs, alexandra fuller and lauren slater. however despite the volumous amounts of jordan/jodi/geri drivel the celebrity world has thrown up many gems too (errol flynn, john lydon and the recent chris heath biography of robbie williams being notable examples) so i was particularly excited to hear that adam ant was publishing his memoirs:

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sadly the best thing i have to say about ‘stand and deliver’ (what else?) is that it is a feat of epic proportions to make that interesting a life sound quite so fucking dull. it is worth pointing out that i love adam (with or without ants) but found myself skim reading whole chunks of this book. punk, souxie soux, pop fame, heather graham, manic depression – there is a lot of material there – and yet i found it sludgy, self indulgent and boring. sometimes a little ‘ghost’ writing is a good thing. i’ve always credited him as a bright man, and i still think he is, but he is surely not a very self aware one.

still, how about a bit of classic antmagic to help us all forget?
[audio:ant.mp3]

the announcment of billie piper’s autobiography on the other hand was, ironically, a much more take it or leave it affair for me:

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jacketed with a kerry katona identikit cover and a given the, frankly awful, title ‘growing pains’ i approached with trepidation. generally those under 30 should on no account publish autobiographies but this was, surprisingly, one of the notable exceptions. billie herself says in the book that she wanted to call it ‘dog years’ (surely a better title?) for this exact reason but that her publisher nixed the idea.
my inclanation to read this in the first place stemmed partly from loving her as rose but also having seen her interviewed in real life and thinking she seemed like a really genuine lass, a feeling that has only been increased having read this. it is in no way a muck raker – other than her own muck – and she is very generous with those she writes about, richie neville and chris evans included. she is very even in discussing her problems with her parents attributing these issues squarely with herself as well as her family – though surely they must take a little of the blame for allowing a 14 year old girl to go on the road with only a middle aged male manager as gaurdian?
she offers a very different perspective on her pop carear (brutal honesty about the quality of the material and the limits of her vocal talent) and her marriage (not in fact the worst thing that ever happened to her) from the recieved media wisdom and having grown up split between the weird polar opposites of a scholarship place at the infamous sylvia young’s midweek and ‘bucket bongs’ in a field in swindon at the weekend aknowledges those aspects of her life that are celebrity cliche (eating disorders, depression, exhaustion) with a ballsy, unself-pitying candour that is beyond rare in celeb memoir.
don’t get me wrong, it’s not a literary masterpiece but it’s well worth a read and will only serve to endear you to her.

a few choice quotes…

on teenage fashion:

the look at the time was all about scraped back hair and scrunchies, from which carefully selected strands would hang like tampon strings down the side of your face.

on anorexia:

the only tip you’ll get out of me is this: the tissue thing was bollocks – it didn’t work. not only was i still hungry, i nearly chocked on a ball of tissue when it momentarily got stuck in my throat. that would have been a nice way to go.

on her ‘casual’ look:

work-horse to domestic bliss. dolly bird to something the cat dragged in.

‘weak’ voice or not, ‘honey to the bee’ is a very underrated piece of pop lovlieness…
[audio:honey.mp3]

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0 thoughts on “An autobiography is an obituary in serial form with the last installment missing

  1. Biography/Autobiography/Memoirs don’t much interest me because it seems that by the time the pub. date rolls around the person on which it is based has an entirely new outlook on love, music, fashion, location , etc. Personally, I find it just as informative to read the tabloids.

  2. i think that really depends on the celebrity and the style of the memoir. as much as i liked it the billie one could fall into that category allthough part of the point of it was, i think, to turn on their head some of the tabloid myths about her. i don’t generally read/believe a word of the tabloids. the tabloid press (and by that i include heat magazine etc..) in this country are utterly dire, unscrupulous and brain rotting.
    memoirs can certainly sometimes be equally dubious – but the good ones aren’t. some of the best celebrity memoirs are just well told reminicances, like david niven’s ‘the moons a ballon’ for example.

    i think i just find peoples stories interesting, famous or otherwise.

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