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The Smoking Diaries (The Smoking Diaries #1)

3.71  ·  Rating Details  ·  159 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
When he turned sixty-five, the acclaimed playwright Simon Gray began to keep this diary: not a careful honing of the day's events with a view to posterity but an account of his thoughts as he had them, honestly, turbulently, digressively expressed. The Smoking Diaries is the result, in which one of Britain's most amusing and original writers reflects on a life filled with ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published July 19th 2005 by Da Capo Press (first published 2001)
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Scott Collins
Jul 21, 2012 Scott Collins rated it really liked it
Not really a diary, not really a memoir; more like the off-the-cuff regrets and rambles of a man of a certain age. "Smoking Diaries" is above all else a book about death. But even that's not quite right. It's really about that odd period at the twilight of one's career, when one has done what one can and there is not much else to do besides remember and trade details of illnesses with friends. And, you know, wait to die. (Gray turns his close friend Harold Pinter's ultimately fatal struggle with ...more
Aug 23, 2015 Techgurl rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
Ridiculous ramblings of an old man, this coming of "old age" book is a confluence of his experiences of youth and facing the inevitable final chapter(s) of life. If you want a story line look else where... If you want to be charmed and float between beautifully wry and witty situations in which we all find ourselves then this is well worth a read in my mind. I appreciated Gray's reflections, turns of phrases and descriptions of everyday life as he ponders how he got so old.
Mar 26, 2009 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very much enjoying this..... more observational wit than a full diary, this has me chuckling on every page. Very British, I'm not sure my American friends would be so amused (or maybe it's just me)....

.......... now finished, a real treat, a mix of nostalgia, holidays and the favourite restaurant, to deliver an insight into a playwright's life fuelled by a number of vices (yes, smoking included). The humour is direct and in some instances quite touching, and no-one is spared the target of his h
Nov 12, 2009 David rated it it was amazing
Compulsively readable, Gray has my kind of a sense of humour. I used to keep a rambling diary for many years. It still fills up two boxes in the garage. Maybe I'll find an audience for them someday. The humour is dry and detached, and he's of course politically incorrect at every step. It may just appeal to the British, come to think of it, at least the ones that can still read.
Leslie Angel
Apr 06, 2009 Leslie Angel rated it liked it
Loved the stream-of-consciousness style and could identify with a lot of the sentiment and experiences, some funny, some painful. 3.5
Jun 06, 2009 Lynne rated it liked it
Good read, aubobiograph of Simon Gray. V amusing in parts, but slightly rambling in others! Dont think I could read it again.
Aug 05, 2010 Dorian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read the three volumes of the Smoking Diaries over a week--a wonderful introduction, for me, to Gray. I look forward now to reading his plays and other memoirs. The books are often very funny, laugh out loud so (really rare, it seems to me) but the best part is, that is, the reason they're so funny, is that they're not setting out to be funny and clever.

I think I liked the second book best, maybe because there one is already in the style/mode/headspace of the books without seeing its tics and re
Apr 04, 2014 Colin rated it really liked it
Very funny if you like the reminiscences of grumpy old men.
Christopher Roth
Dec 16, 2012 Christopher Roth rated it it was amazing
A complete delight. I was skeptical at first of the written-on-a-legal-pad-on-the-fly-with-essentially-no-editing aspect of it, but it works. And the laziness of the project fits Gray's character and his attitude toward life at this point. And really, why *should* people with lots to say who write well bother with things like editing? Also, I'm delighted that there are two more volumes of it.
Feb 09, 2012 Kathryn rated it liked it
Very very readable. Deceptively rambling, he claims that it's all written as a stream of consciousness but it must have been edited, surely? Loved the diary format. All the stuff at the end about how he manages to live a rich person's lifestyle despite being broke... could it be anything to do with being married to a Rothschild, perhaps? Hmmm? Surely the two facts are not unconnected.
Aug 04, 2008 Wobbler rated it liked it
Recommends it for: English people, nostalgic people!
Obviously there's a bit less of a cohesive narrative with this, as it's back and forth through his throughts as they occur to him. That being said it manages to be touching, poiniant, honest and above all... you really get a lovely account of the mans sense of humour. I'd never heard of him, got this for xmas from my sister but I feel enriched by having read it :)
Feb 08, 2012 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
All the blurb and review quotes on the jacket would have you believe it's laugh out loud funny but it just isn't. Extremely melancholic/misanthropic/sardonic in tone though none the worse for that. Artfully crafted and craftily artful

Wayne Roylance
Jan 12, 2011 Wayne Roylance rated it it was amazing
the first in a series of memoirs by playwright gray about aging, missing his drink, smoking (of course) & literature. he's a natural storyteller - very funny, very british. the whole series is worth reading.
Sep 19, 2011 Yaroslav rated it really liked it
Собирался дать три звезды (главным образом - за несоответствие завышенным ожиданиям), но за историю про ужин с поэтом Лоуэллом чуть не расщедрился на пять. Поэтому - четыре.
Oct 07, 2010 Liltiki rated it really liked it
Candid, sometimes shocking, often sad memoir of the aging literary crowd in the UK. Especially the take on the dying Harold Pinter. Touching. For any Anglophile.
Nov 23, 2008 Martinxo rated it it was ok
Recommended to Martinxo by: The Guardian Review
Shelves: 2008, memoir
Ohhh, I wanted to like this book and some of it is indeed very funny but ultimately I found myself flicking through the pages looking for things of interest.
Jul 11, 2008 Dave rated it it was ok
The review I read about this book was much better than the book itself. Hate it when that happens.
David Edmonds
Sep 11, 2008 David Edmonds rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2008
Perfect to carry around to read when waiting, traveling or just stopping during a busy day.
Sep 07, 2011 Fredd rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. If you don't like this book then may you end up like Jim Fixx.
Mar 29, 2009 Sanjay is currently reading it
What wonderful, loopy, discursive, digressive, comic - and addictive - sentences!
May 03, 2013 Kate rated it did not like it
Shelves: z-gave-up
Stream of consciousness writing is lazy narcissistic writing in this case.
Jeremy Trouncer
Mar 01, 2010 Jeremy Trouncer rated it really liked it
Shelves: other
Funny old British writer who has a unique and entertaining slant on the world
Lynn Kearney
Mar 17, 2009 Lynn Kearney rated it really liked it
Any old smoker would love this. Any non smoker would too. Witty and profound.
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Simon James Holliday Gray, CBE (21 October 1936 – 7 August 2008) was an English playwright and memoirist who also had a career as a university lecturer in English literature at Queen Mary, University of London, for 20 years. While teaching at Queen Mary, Gray began his writing career as a novelist in 1963 and, during the next 45 years, in addition to 5 published novels, wrote 40 original stage pla ...more
More about Simon Gray...

Other Books in the Series

The Smoking Diaries (4 books)
  • The Year of the Jouncer
  • The Last Cigarette (Smoking Diaries Volume 3)
  • Coda

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