Posts Tagged With: Autobiography

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson

Synopsis:

Some say that the first hint that Bill Bryson was not of Planet Earth came when his mother sent him to school in lime-green Capri pants. Others think it all started with his discovery, at the age of six, of a woollen jersey of rare fineness. Across the moth-holed chest was a golden thunderbolt. It may have looked like an old college football sweater, but young Bryson knew better. It was obviously the Sacred Jersey of Zap, and proved that he had been placed with this innocuous family in the middle of America to fly, become invisible, shoot guns out of people’s hands from a distance, and wear his underpants over his jeans in the manner of Superman. Bill Bryson’s first travel book opened with the immortal line, ‘I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to.’ In his deeply funny new memoir, he travels back in time to explore the ordinary kid he once was, and the curious world of 1950s America. It was a happy time, when almost everything was good for you, including DDT, cigarettes and nuclear fallout. This is a book about growing up in a specific time and place. But in Bryson’s hands, it becomes everyone’s story, one that will speak volumes – especially to anyone who has ever been young.

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This is the first Bryson book I have read and I really enjoyed it. The book follows Bryson’s childhood, into teen years and was very funny. I was laughing out loud at most of the story. It was easy to read, a quick and satisfying read.

Bryson does put the book in historical context and talks about historic events that occurred in the 1950s and 1960s, including the Cuban Missile Crisis and the the threat of atomic bombs. However, this was interesting and often amusing as he explains how these events were viewed through a child’s eyes.

He is very honest about what he got up to as a child, including minor thefts and bunking off school. He recalls many funny events and the life he lead in 1950s Iowa. The end was a bit sad, when he talks about what remains of his childhood town and the memories of his friends. But overall, a hilarious book which I really enjoyed.

9/10

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Look Who It Is! By Alan Carr

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From the front cover flap:

Hello and welcome to my life.

Oh, and what a life! From the grimness of doing data entry for Mr Dog to the dizzy heights of `The Friday Night Project’ and performing for Her Majesty at the Royal Variety Performance. My life’s been like a long flume, up and down with a couple of damp patches in the middle.

Take my hand, I want to lead you through my life. Within these pages you will come face to face with my parents, my dog Minstrel, my friends and a whole load of waifs and strays that have helped to make my journey that little bit more memorable. When you read Look Who It Is! I’m sure you’ll agree – it’s just been one thing after another.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to all. It follows Alan’s life up until he accepts the offer to host The Friday Night Project with Justin Lee Colins. It is easy to read, interesting and engaging. He was very honest and I feel I know him now, and would like to meet him. It was very enlightening, I had thought Alan had been on the comedy scene for longer than he has. In fact, it was around 2005 he began to get famous.

Alan does not just talk about comedy though. He speaks of his family, including his famous, football manager Dad, Graham Carr and all his life experiences to date, which include university, travelling around the world and horrid temp jobs such as working in a call centre. There were several things in this book I could relate too, which made it even more enjoyable.

The book was not as funny as I was expecting it to be, however it did have me laughing and chuckling in places so I don’t feel particularly let down.

This is a great book; an honest story where Alan says it like it is, and doesn’t go for the sympathy vote. It is a bit cheeky that he has left the door open for a sequel in a few years, but hey, good for him.

An enjoyable book.

9/10

Buy at Borders

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Humble Pie (Quick Reads) by Gordon Ramsay

I have just finished Humble Pie (Quick Reads) by Gordon Ramsay

 

Amazon synopsis:

Everyone thinks they know the real Gordon Ramsay: rude, loud, driven, stubborn. But this is his real story! In this fast-paced, bite-sized edition of his bestselling autobiography Ramsay tells the real story of how he became the world’s most famous and infamous chef: his difficult childhood, his brother’s heroin addiction, his failed first career as a footballer, his fanatical pursuit of gastronomic perfection and his TV persona – all the things that have made him the celebrated culinary talent and media powerhouse that he is today. Gordon talks frankly about: / his tough childhood: his father’s alcoholism and violence and the effects on his relationships with his mother and siblings / his first career as a footballer: how the whole family moved to Scotland when he was signed by Glasgow Rangers at the age of fifteen, and how he coped when his career was over due to injury just three years later / his brother’s heroin addiction. / Gordon’s early career: learning his trade in Paris and London; how his career developed from there: his time in Paris under Albert Roux and his seven Michelin-starred restaurants./ kitchen life: Gordon spills the beans about life behind the kitchen door, and how a restaurant kitchen is run in Anthony Bourdain-style.

/ and how he copes with the impact of fame on himself and his family: his television career, the rapacious tabloids, and his own drive for success.

I was a bit surprised by this book. I had no idea what to expect, and I knew nothing about Gordon Ramsay at all. He is very open and honest about his childhood, which seemed horrible, experiencing domestic violence and poverty. However, he does not dwell on the issue to gain sympathy. He is honest and then moves on the story. His rise to fame wasn’t easy but he is someone who has worked very hard, and often for no pay, to get to where he is today.

 

He explained restaurant ratings well, and he has broken a few records. I had no idea how many restaurants he owns, but he has a little empire it seems. He is honest and open, he gives his opinion about what he likes, how he works, what he wants in his kitchen and he defends his friends, such as the Beckham’s.

 

Having read this and seen how much blood, sweat and tears have gone into making him, I have a lot more respect for him. He has come from nothing to having restaurants and media success all over the world, quite an achievement.

 

This was a Quick Read so was only 83 pages. I didn’t feel I missed out not reading the longer version though, this was detailed, fast paced and easy to read.

 

My only complaint would be his bad language, which does some through in the book. However, that isn’t really a surprise!

 

A good read

8/10

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How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale by Jenna Jameson

Synopsis(from Amazon):
The current queen of the adult entertainment industry intimately and candidly offers up lifetimes worth of sexual experience – from her days as an under-age Las Vegas stripper to her present position as CEO of her own adult entertainment empire – in a hot, fun and informative guide on how to make love like a porn star. Jenna Jameson reigns as the queen of the adult entertainment industry. Not only is she today’s most popular female adult star, but she may be the most recognisable porn star of all time, owing largely to her crossover into the mainstream. Jenna is bringing the adult entertainment industry out from behind closed doors and sexing up American pop culture. In her new book, Jenna will personally bring her audience into the bedroom for a lesson in love making that only Jenna could give. Jenna’s book will be the opportunity her fans have been waiting to get intimate with her.

Not only will Jenna share with her readers an unparalleled wealth of information, but she will also take her readers through her own sexual development with personal stories of firsts, hilarious and charming recollections of days spent naked in front of the camera, nervous moments on stage as a teenage dancer in Las Vegas, her first experiences posing for Playboy and Penthouse, and her personal stories of love off-camera and on her own. More than a book of sex tips, this will be the story of how Jenna Jameson became the sex star that she is today, allowing her readers to learn from her life and experiences and parlay those lessons into an improved and open sex life with men, women, or both. With hot, fun and detailed instructions on acts of love and lust ranging from strip-teasing to oral sex, Jenna’s book will draw on her trove of experiences with both men and women to give her readers an intimate understanding of how Jenna gets down, and how they too can love like a porn star.

Review:
I actually really enjoyed this book – it’s very frank, yet not as explicit as you might expect from a porn star. There are a couple of odd chapters which are written entirely in script form, where Jenna, her brother and her father are reminiscing, and those sections, as a result, don’t read quite as well, but overall it’s a very interesting read and she comes over quite sensitively. Ultimately, I cam away from the book with a real respect for her and the choices she’d made in her life, even if they were choices I would never have made for myself.

It’s quite a chunky read, but it’s very easy to read and, as a result, it doesn’t take all that long to read. There are also loads of gorgeous photos of her and some of her family too. And no, none of the pictures are explicit (there are a few that would have been, but they have strategically-placed stars, which will no doubt ruin it all for those who were expecting an eyeful!).

If you’re looking for an insight into the porn industry that doesn’t just say, “Oh, my life is ruined and the porn industry sent it spiralling even further down into a life of shame and degradation”, then this is it. Jenna revels in her sexuality and makes no apologies for the person she is. She gives it to you straight – all her faults and addictions laid bare, along with the positive aspects of how she discovered herself and became a major player in the adult film industry.

Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite

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Slash with Anthony Bozza

Synopsis from Amazon
The long-awaited, never-before-told, no-holds-barred memoir from the legendary Guns N’ Roses guitarist. Finally, all the lurid tales of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll are revealed as Slash describes his incredible rollercoaster journey as part of the biggest rock band in the world, living life to the full in the 80s. The mass of black curls. The top hat. The cigarette dangling from pouty lips. These are the trademarks of one of the world’s greatest and most revered guitarists, a celebrity musician known by one name: Slash. Saul “Slash” Hudson was born in Hampstead to a Jewish father and a black American mother who created David Bowie’s look in The Man Who Fell to Earth. He was raised in Stoke until he was 11, when he and his mother moved to LA. Frequent visitors to the house were David Bowie, Joni Mitchell, Ronnie Wood and Iggy Pop. At this time Slash got into BMX bikes and would eventually turn professional, winning major awards and money, but at 15 his grandmother gave him his first guitar. Sessions with numerous local LA rock bands followed until a fateful meeting with singer W Axl Rose!and the rest was rock history.

Guns N’ Roses spent two years builiding their reputation before Appetite for Destruction was unleashed on an unsuspecting world. Chart success and global domination followed but with it came the inevitable fall — addicted to heroin, booze and cigarettes the band imploded in a rift between Axl and Slash that is as deep today as ever. But with a new wife, kids and new band Velvet Revolver, Slash is back on track. As raucous and edgy as his music, Slash sets the record straight and tells the real story as only Slash can.

My thoughts

I don’t normally read autobiographies but this book has had such an effect on me that I have been raving about it!

The first 100 pages are about Slash’s childhood, his upbringing and his family life which ultimately influenced his decision to become a musician but also contributed to his drug taking.
I found the first 100 pages a bit hard going, not because I didn’t enjoy them but because I wanted to get to the Guns n’ Roses days.

The next 200 pages or so are about Slash’s continuing battle with heroin addiction during Guns n’ Roses early days. There are some particularly harrowing moments including one incident where Slash was hallucinating and was running through a hotel complex naked as he thought demons were chasing him. After several failed attempts Slash finally beat his heroin addiction but unfortunately replaced it with alcohol.

It was lovely to read about how he and his wife Perla met and their children.

Since reading this book I have found myself listening to all of the Guns n’ Roses albums again, watching their videos, looking at the CD covers and finding pictures of Slash as I now know what was going on in their lives at the time that they were recorded/taken.

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this book even though at times it was quite dark.

9/10

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