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The Smoking Diaries (The Smoking Diaries #1)

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  136 ratings  ·  22 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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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 325)
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Scott Collins
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
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
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
Loved the stream-of-consciousness style and could identify with a lot of the sentiment and experiences, some funny, some painful. 3.5
Good read, aubobiograph of Simon Gray. V amusing in parts, but slightly rambling in others! Dont think I could read it again.
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
Very funny if you like the reminiscences of grumpy old men.
Christopher Roth
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.
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 3 of 5 stars
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 :)
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
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.
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.
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 2 of 5 stars
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.
The review I read about this book was much better than the book itself. Hate it when that happens.
David Edmonds
Perfect to carry around to read when waiting, traveling or just stopping during a busy day.
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!
Stream of consciousness writing is lazy narcissistic writing in this case.
Jeremy Trouncer
Funny old British writer who has a unique and entertaining slant on the world
Lynn Kearney
Any old smoker would love this. Any non smoker would too. Witty and profound.
Priya marked it as to-read
Jul 08, 2015
Huw Turner
Huw Turner marked it as to-read
Jun 04, 2015
TK421 marked it as to-read
May 16, 2015
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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
Butley Coda The Year of the Jouncer The Last Cigarette (Smoking Diaries Volume 3) Otherwise Engaged

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