I found Philip Pullman’s The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ hard going. It was intelligent, thoughtful and insightful, but felt so genuinely biblical that I ended up a bit bored. Still, if the Christian church ever need someone to produce a new modern version they could do worse than to ask Mr Pullman; the genuine feel he manages to produce is not compromised by archaic language. He would of course refuse as the book is an atheist story which details how, whilst Jesus was “a man who lived in those times”, his message has been distorted by those in search of power.
I moved from the story of Jesus and his twin brother to the story of Louise Wener and her band in the autobiographical Different for Girls. This was more like it.
I quite liked Sleeper at the time. They weren’t one of my favourite bands or anything but I still have the first two CD singles and did go and see them a couple of times, once at the Camden Palace and once on some TV show (Naked City?). Even so, given the subject matter of my work-in-progress novel and the fact that Louise Wener is a successful novelist, I thought I’d give this a try.
And I’m very glad I did. It’s one of the best rock autobiographies I’ve read. It remains engaging, amusing and interesting right through until the last page and knows when not to get bogged down in the minutiae. The author also manages to pull off the tricky task of writing in the present tense. This is difficult enough in fiction so becomes even more impressive when applied to an autobiography.
Like all autobiographies, I found the childhood/teens the most fascinating part, even if my anal brain did spot some eighties anachronisms (however as this is a true story I am sure any events that were moved were only done so for dramatic effect). That’s not to say the first part of the book is the best bit - the glimpse into the world of the nineties British music industry is a fascinating one.
If this book has a message it’s “Don’t do it!”. Not that that will stop any ambitious would be pop-stars - however, they could do worse than keeping this book on hand to guide them through the musical minefield when they do decide to go ahead and try…