Friday, 15 October 2010

Christmas must be coming...

...the shops are full of s'lebrity autobiographies!

I've just walked through the city centre and while I wasn't actually shopping I couldn't help but look at the bookshop window displays. Even without looking at a calendar I could tell we were in the run up to the PGP* - the posters and windows were full of celebrity (auto)biographies.

All of them looking the same.

Last year the look was sitting down head on arms, this year it is standing up laughing.

I like biographies and autobiographies, perhaps I am just a nosy person but I love reading about other people. Sometimes I wish I lead the same sort of exciting lives as others do, but most of the time I am pleased that I don't.

I'll read a biography at any time of the year if I am interested in a person and I really don't understand how the autumn has become synonymous with (auto)biography. You only have to look in the charity shops (or work the refund desk in a bookshop) in January to know that these books are often unwanted gifts given by desperate family members. I've come to see them as the book equivalent of the bunch of flowers from the petrol station!

The other problem is that as the autumn is considered biography season the ones I want to read are also published at this time of year, but as the subjects aren't as 'sexy' or 'bankable' the books get lost, don't do very well and then publishers don't take risks on these more eclectic biographies and each year there are more celebrity memoirs and less interesting ones.

The biography that I am reading at the moment is Storyteller, The Life of Roald Dahl by Donald Sturrock.
It is a hefty tome and one I am dipping in and out of rather than racing through. I'd always known that Dahl wasn't your typical children's author and that he had a dark side but this book is wonderfully balanced, all sides of Dahl are written about. I think my favourite part so far has been where Sturrock compared Dahl's real life to the account he gives in his two volumes of 'autobiography'. I love Boy and Going Solo and deep down I always knew that were more likely to be a heavily fictionalised account of Dahl's life but the genius of this biography is that I can still love these two books whilst also knowing the truth. Storyteller whilst being honest isn't a hatchet job and it is still okay to love Roald Dahl's books.

There are a few more biographies I want to read being published this autumn but all I know is that they aren't of celebrities and they won't all look identical.

*PGP - Primary Gifting Period. I've loved this term for Christmas ever since I heard Bill Bailey use it.

No comments:

Post a Comment