Salisbury, where he was brought up, had two industries: God and the Cold War, both of which provided a cast of adults for the child to scrutinise - desiccated God-botherers on the one hand, gung-ho chemical warriors on the other. The title is grossly inaccurate. This book is, rather, a portrait of a disappeared provincial England, a time and place unpeeled with gruesome relish.
"Meades [is] in the upper echelon of 20th-century prose stylists. His use of language is relentlessly inventive, violent, fresh, precise. He shares with the great stylists - Dickens, Joyce, Nabokov, Bellow - the ability to make the world appear alien while rendering it a more intense version of itself, and the power to recalibrate the reader's own perception of the environment in which they live." (Matthew Adams, Independent)
"If Meades was a racehorse you'd be calling for a stewards' enquiry. There's something in his feed which gives him the lot. He's working at terribly high octane." (Iain Sinclair, Kaleidoscope)
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Tom on 06-02-17
A big disappointment
I have greatly enjoyed almost every tv programme Johnathan Meades has fronted, so I looked forward to hearing his life-story as an audiobook, read by him too. However, I was greatly disappointed, There is a place for self-depracation but chapter after chapter of it palls really quite quickly. I gave up on the book about two thirds of the way through, as a result. Maybe it has a more upbeat and engaging ending, but I rather doubt it.
By B. Ward on 01-09-16
So dense with detail you could cut & serve as pie
Close your eyes & enjoy the erudition. (*bring a dictionary). Nostalgic for 50s & 60s England? Meades captures so much of that time, articulating your sense of loss for things you can't remember, but instantly recognise. They're described in lovingly unsentimental detail: childhood car crushes, the taste of poster paint, biscuits, holidays in weather-beaten caravans with weather-beaten relatives, parental banter, illicit curiosity about death, Benny Hill & Ken Russell and most of the parks and gardens of Dorset, Wiltshire & Hampshire.
Listening to Meades' monologues are a chore for many, but a joy to some of us, so several hours of autobiographical revisionist rambling is well worth your money or Audible credits. Meades' delivery is deadpan to a fault and you could be forgiven for thinking it's a po-faced indulgence of a book, but listen carefully and the humour will emerge. You could listen 10 times and still not register every reference. Enjoy the density responsibly.