I really enjoyed this book. The tale of Grayson Perry - the artist and transexual potter - growing up in suburban Essex. His childhood and teenage sto...moreI really enjoyed this book. The tale of Grayson Perry - the artist and transexual potter - growing up in suburban Essex. His childhood and teenage story is pretty interesting and I often wished that the book had gone into more detail about parts of that, especially the feel of the places, but it gave great detail to the family characters. The book ended soon after his graduation from art school and I wish it had carried on a bit longer, taking us through the early years of his career as a working artist. I thought he was a character of quirky and opposing interests, dressing up, cross-dressing, mechanical repairs, pottery, imaginary worlds, S&M. It was interesting also to see connections with Boy George and Marilyn - he lived in some of the same squats as them in London. All in all it was a quick, easy read and I got through it in a day. It reminded me a little of Toast by Nigel Slater and he even used the same metaphor at one point - how love is making warm buttered toast for someone.(less)
A compilation of Tracey's columns written for the Independent newspaper which are a rambling diary of holidays, jet setting, gallery openings, vomitin...moreA compilation of Tracey's columns written for the Independent newspaper which are a rambling diary of holidays, jet setting, gallery openings, vomiting at art parties, product placement, posh hotels and boozing. The book does not include forty illustrations, or in fact any.(less)
In 1967, when she was nineteen, Patti got pregnant. She left college and quit her factory job and after giving birth gave the baby up for adoption. Wh...moreIn 1967, when she was nineteen, Patti got pregnant. She left college and quit her factory job and after giving birth gave the baby up for adoption. When she came home, she decided to move to New York to start a new life. She wanted to be a painter and poet and though she had no job she knew a few friends who were students in Brooklyn. She ended up sleeping on their floors or some times rough on the streets. Then, running away from a date, she met Robert Mapplethorpe. The book is their story. How they became lovers, then friends and then muses to each other.
I loved this book so much. The writing is beautiful and poetic and somehow craft-like, sewing in little motifs that Patti and Robert talk about. The sequences of Patti and Roberts meeting is romantic and the ending so deeply touching that it made me very tearful! Throughout the book they both have a single-minded commitment to their art and support each other in their artistic endeavours. They ended up living in the Chelsea Hotel and meeting a lot of the famous people of the era. The friends, lovers, mentors and hero’s Patti discusses are all remembered with warm open-hearted kindness so that it never feels like she is name dropping for the sake of it. And her love, and romantic, maybe somewhat rose-tinted view, of the down and out New York of the sixties and seventies - the garrets, the alternative bars the dirty lofts and the flea-bag motels - comes through on every page. There is a definite and interesting overlap with ‘City Boy’ which takes place in New York of the same period, but Edmund White moved in very different circles, his book featured more literary types and also the Stonewall riots and the gay liberation movement. Where as Patti and Robert – whose work is so confrontational in its sexuality, seem outside of this. Patti’s world revolved more around the beats, Warhol factory outsiders and rock and rollers, but most of all it is about her enduring friendship with Robert and how it shaped her life.(less)
Brilliant! There is a lot of story here that is similar to Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, revolving around her youthful battles with her headstrong (...moreBrilliant! There is a lot of story here that is similar to Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, revolving around her youthful battles with her headstrong (possibly insane) adopted mother Mrs Winterson. However, the shockingly weird Dickensian-Religious childhood that Jeannette Winterson endured is endlessly interesting to read about and so it didn't bother me that I had read many of those episodes before in a different fictional incarnation. Here it feels more real as its not cut with the fairytale asides of Oranges. Although the stories themselves often have a weird fairytale feel to it ( - locked in the coal cellar by the evil step mother, hiding piles of books under the mattress etc.)
I was a bit disappointed that she skips over the middle of her life. The ending concerning the search and discovery of her adopted mother was moving and emotional. It was I think the main point of the book and you have to include the childhood suffering story, that also fostered her literary escape and obsession, in order to get to this cathartic ending. (less)
I downloaded this from the internet archive, as research for something I'm writing, I think its out of print. It is the story of Robert Houdin a Magic...moreI downloaded this from the internet archive, as research for something I'm writing, I think its out of print. It is the story of Robert Houdin a Magician in France in the 19th Century – he is thought to be the father of modern magic and illusion. The story starts in his youth, how he trained as a clockmaker and then met a traveling magician who he befriended, before learning the tricks of the trade. After this opening section, there isn't really an over aching narrative and the book is largely sequential anecdotes about his stage performances and magic tricks – mostly how they nearly went wrong and how he salvaged them through his quick thinking and skill. Often he reveals how certain illusions were done after discussing them. I found the characters and the world of the 19th Century travelling shows and magicians particularly interesting. The first section in which talks about his youth and the life of his mentors Torrini and Antonio, is very good, and I recognised elements borrowed and reshaped for 'The Prestige. ( – this seems to have strongly influenced it – I am judging from the movie not the book.) Robert Houdin does tend to blow his own trumpet (there are lots of performances to astounded royalty) and I think you have to take some of the stuff with a pinch of salt, but altogether a very interesting autobiography.
What I found surprising about the book was how much of a modern teenager Anne was. I don't know why this surprised me given that if she were alive tod...moreWhat I found surprising about the book was how much of a modern teenager Anne was. I don't know why this surprised me given that if she were alive today she would probably be only a decade and a half or so older than my parents. The diary is so personal and teenagery, with such detail about the day to day life of the characters and Anne's shifting feelings about them. Yet at the same time she is aware, and so is the reader, that they are living through these extraordinary and dangerous circumstances. She gives details of the allied invasion on one page and then what she had for dinner or how she is feeling on another and as a result the diary brings you so personally close to that period of history. After a few years of documenting the Franks and the Van Dan's life in hiding the diary just ends. I found the afterword which describes the fates of all the characters and the legacy of Anne's diary very moving and sad.(less)
I got the audio version of this which is great cause I love the way David Lynch reads it. To be honest I'm not a TM person and so found that uninteres...moreI got the audio version of this which is great cause I love the way David Lynch reads it. To be honest I'm not a TM person and so found that uninteresting - I am sure there is some truth in it but it seems very culty and convoluted. Reading in Suzanne Segal's book( Collision with the Infinite) about the early days of TM and all the crazy goings on around it put me right off it. The bits I liked were the stories about Lynch's life and films. I think he has a lot of interesting things to say about art, life and artistic practice.(less)
I really liked this book and thought that Christopher Isherwood comes across as a generous, warm, funny and self-depreciating character. His love for...moreI really liked this book and thought that Christopher Isherwood comes across as a generous, warm, funny and self-depreciating character. His love for his friends shines through despite the odd bitchy argument.
He is much more interesting character here than in either of his fictional versions of the period (Mr Norris Changes Trains or Berlin Stories). As he says himself, when he wrote those he was much more guarded about the gay aspects of himself and his characters and here he is more open about it.
That is a strong reflection of the different eras in which the books were written – by the time this was published in the seventies it was the beginning of the gay liberation movement. Also interestingly Christopher mentions the film Cabaret - in which his character is bisexual and the play I am Camera in which his character was straight. The recent adaptation for the BBC of Christopher And His Friends which used scenes from this and The Berlin Novels was very explicitly gay - more so than the book. So all these versions go to show how acceptance has changed over the years.
The truer versions of the characters sexuality also helps make the characters more rounded than the earlier books. Though I would still recommend reading those first as he quotes chunks of them here.
He writes beautifully about this period just before the war and gives an account of the tribulations and the happiness that he encountered in Berlin and England and Europe during these tumultuous times.(less)
Great anecdotes about the early days of British cinema and also on the stars. I remember Cardiff writes beautiful personal anecdotes about Marilyn, Lo...moreGreat anecdotes about the early days of British cinema and also on the stars. I remember Cardiff writes beautiful personal anecdotes about Marilyn, Loren and Heburn. Lots of interesting stuff about The Red Shoes too.(less)
I remember the feel of the writing and the anecdotes to be very speedy/cokey and neurotic, which seems from the story to be an accurate reflection of...moreI remember the feel of the writing and the anecdotes to be very speedy/cokey and neurotic, which seems from the story to be an accurate reflection of her mind.(less)