ABC’s booksellers don’t just sell books: as well as being voracious readers, almost all ABC staff members are personally responsible for buying the books for one or more sections in the stores. That means you’ll always find someone who can put exactly the right book in your hands when you need it. We asked our buyers for their tips for the best gifts for the upcoming holiday season, and they came up with some great ones: new books, classic books, magazines, games, merchandise, and stationery.
Posts Tagged ‘biographies’
In the early summer of 1956, 23 year-old Colin Clark, just down from Oxford and determined to make his way in the film business, worked as a lowly assistant on the set of The Prince and the Showgirl, the film that famously united Sir Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe.
When Arthur Miller left England, the coast was clear for Colin to introduce Marilyn to some of the pleasures of British life; an idyllic week in which he escorted a Monroe desperate to get away from her retinue of Hollywood hangers-on and the pressures of work.
Nearly 40 years on, his diary account of this time, The Prince, the Showgirl and Me (sadly out of print, rare and super expensive) was published, but one week was missing from the story. Clark’s account of that week was published some years later as My Week with Marilyn.
Based on Clark’s book, and directed by Simon Curtis, the movie My Week With Marilyn premiers in Dutch cinemas on January 26th, 2012. Starring Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Julia Ormond, Kenneth Brannagh, Emma Watson, Toby Jones, Dougray Scott, Dominic Cooper, Zoë Wanamaker, Judi Dench and a host of other familiar faces, My Week With Marilyn has received rave reviews; it promises to be a real treat.
See it FREE with ABC!
We have five pairs of tickets to see My Week With Marilyn to give away, thanks to the fine people at Paradiso Films! To enter the draw, just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday January 23rd, 2012
Please include your contact details in the mail, which store you would like to collect the tickets in, and put “My Week With Marilyn tickets” in the subject line.
Reviewed by Eefje Koppers
‘You Review’ is like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re going to get. Sometimes, you get lucky and you get something sweet like a caramel-filled treat. Sometimes it’s a hazelnut praline, i.e. a tough nut to crack. And then there’s the time when you find yourself holding an artery-clogging, calorie-count busting chocolate bomb like the Roald Dahl biography Storyteller, by Donald Sturrock. All 672 pages of it!
I grew up reading and loving Roald Dahl books like Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Witches, so I was curious to find out more about the man behind them. I had already heard he was a fascinating figure but just how interesting his life really was, I had no idea. At the end of his life, he was first and foremost a novelist and short story writer, but he was also a sports ace, a fighter pilot (albeit with mixed results…), a spy, a ladies’ man, a devoted father and generally always at the right place at the right time when it came to meeting some of the most influential people of his time. He led a truly fascinating life and it is interesting to see how his various adventures inspired him to write his most famous stories and books.
The authorised biography by Donald Sturrock gives a detailed account of this extraordinary life. But unfortunately, sometimes it is just a bit too detailed. Every other sentence gives a reference to a letter, an interview or other source and there are numerous side notes, all of which really slow down your reading. While the material is undoubtedly interesting, for me, it could have been wrapped up in at least half the amount of pages and with far fewer mentions of notes and source material. But maybe I am just not a big enough Dahl fan or just unable to appreciate Sturrock’s painstaking research and those who are and can will love this rich chocolate bomb of a read.
If you’d like to join in and get free books and ABC gift vouchers, see the original post for more details.
Ever since Pamela des Barres’ classic ‘I’m With the Band’ was released in 1987, there have been several tell-all autobiographies — ranging from the sublimely spunky to the cringe-inducingly awful.
These women did a lot more than just sleep with famous dudes (ahem, Marianne Faithfull, ahem!) and they have great stories to tell.
Here are some of my fave “groupie books”.
Pamela Des Barres: I’m With the Band
Growing up infatuated with rock’n’roll records and her favourite Beatle Paul McCartney, supergroupie Pamela Des Barres decided as a young girl that she had to be closer to the people who made the music that excited her so much. And so she did. In rock’n’roll history, Miss Pamela is a legend, having been the arm candy for such rockstars as Mick Jagger, Jimmy Page and husband Michael Des Barres. While such an honestly-written autobiography which spends so much time detailing her many relationships could easily make you think of Pamela as a bit of a promiscuous bimbo, her writing style and true affection for the men in her past make I’m With the Band more of a reminder to go after what you want in life, and to never have any regrets.
Marianne Faithfull: Memories, Dreams and Reflections
A follow-up to Faithfull’s 1994 autobiography ‘Faithfull’, ‘Memories, Dreams and Reflections’ reads more like a memoir. In a free-ﬂowing style Marianne regales tales of the past, of friends and loved ones, her childhood, her battle with breast cancer and several near-death experiences. Yes, Marianne has had quite a life.. Faithfull already revealed quite a lot about her riveting life, but not hindered by the chronological order of events, this second memoir shows her on top form. Her self-deprecating humor and engaging anecdotes about Allen Ginsberg, dinners with Daniel Day Lewis and the unimaginable, decadent feast at Caroline Blackwood’s deathbed make you wonder if life does get better as you get older.
Caroline Sullivan: Bye Bye Baby: My Tragic Love Affair With the Bay City Rollers
So exactly what was tragic about it? Probably the fact that before she caught sight of the Rollers’ singer Les McKeown, Guardian columnist Sullivan led the life of any self-respecting Led Zep-loving Jersey teen. From age 17 onwards, she spent four summers chasing after the Rollers; Sullivan dropped out of high school, moved to Manhattan, camped out in hotel lobbies and eventually slept with an unnamed Roller.
‘Bye Bye Baby’ is a trip down memory lane, even for those who weren’t around for those tartan-clad Scots; it’s about loving something with careless abandon, a tale of how everyone is able to lose their mind sometimes.
Pattie Boyd: Wonderful Tonight
Having been married to both George Harrison and Eric Clapton at the height of their success, and acquiring fame of her own by modeling for titles such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, Pattie Boyd’s autobiography Wonderful Today teaches us that things are not always as they seem. Dining with the ‘in’ crowd and going to all the best hot spots in 1960s swinging London might seem utterly glamorous, but at the same time Pattie was having to face the facts and come to terms that her marriage to George was on the verge of breaking down, while later her marriage to Eric was riddled with drug and alcohol addictions. Wonderful Today is an inspiring memoir that reminds us once again that beauty is not just skin deep.
Since the success of ‘I’m With the Band’, Miss Pamela has been on a one-woman crusade to reclaim the word “groupie”. In the ’60s and ’70s, the word had little to no negative connotations, and when you read the stories of the women included in this book, you understand why. They were independent women rockstars chased after because they were, simply put, rather fabulous. Women featured in ‘Let’s Spend the Night Together’ were long-time girlfriends of some of the biggest names in rock — girls wanted to be them and rockstars wanted to bed them. While the later entries don’t have that same magic, mostly because the tales become a little less romantic (30 guys in one night doesn’t quite compare to dancing the night away at Max’s Kansas City while Warhol looks on), it’s interesting to read about a male-dominated world from an all-girl perspective.
If you have written something about books, or magazines, or anything else we sell, really, you’re welcome to blog more for us, too, for book vouchers. See the original post for all the details.
You Review: Under the Sun: The Letters of Bruce Chatwin, edited by Elizabeth Chapwin and Nicholas ShakespeareTuesday, September 7th, 2010
Reviewed by Em Angevaare
Under the Sun is a record of a life of immense restlessness. The letters of Bruce Chatwin, edited by his wife Elizabeth and his biographer Nicholas Shakespeare, span more than forty years, and in that time the author was rarely in one place for more than a few months. The letters show a man who was always on the move, and whose thoughts outran even his travels, moving quickly and in many directions. He knew an astonishing assortment of people, and seems to have got along with most of them. His books refuse to be neatly filed into existing genres. Bruce Chatwin was, and is, hard to pin down.
I must say that I came to this book with the wrong expectations, assuming that the justification for publishing a collection of someone’s letters would be an inherent interest in the letters themselves, in the case of a writer, simply that writing was what they were good at. That does not quite apply here. There are occasional sparks, flashes of insight and appealing prose that make you see why this traveller was also an author. But if this is, as Elizabeth Chatwin’s preface has it, ‘a last example of a traditional form of communication’, it certainly isn’t the best. Too many letters deal only with travel arrangements and the details of art sales. Important information for both sender and recipient, but hardly relevant to other readers. By this I do not mean to imply that Chatwin should have been writing more interesting epistles – he did not sit down at his typewriter to entertain future readers of letter collections. But I do think that the book would have benefited from a more rigorous selection. Under the Sun is a wonderful book if you can’t get enough of Chatwin, but it took me quite a while before I was drawn in to this wandering life. And then what fascinated me was that at the centre of it all was still a question mark, an empty space on the map.
In his introduction, Nicholas Shakespeare emphasises the private, uncensored view of Chatwin that his letters present, as contrasted with the varied impressions he left on the world – the opinion of his friends, for example, ranging from his having ‘no sense of humour’ to being ‘colossally funny’. And where better to find the real writer than in the letters he dashed off without the world looking over his shoulder? Here, at last, this fat volume says, is the definitive collection. Here is Bruce Chatwin himself, all in one place. But that is an illusion. The letters answer no questions. As he always did in life, Chatwin escapes.
You Review: The latest releases, reviewed by ABC customers. If you’d like to join in and get free books and ABC gift vouchers, see the original postfor more details.