Michael Ondaatje takes a journey into childhood
Writing an autobiographical account of middle age is a brave undertaking, necessitating a great deal of self-scrutiny at a time of life when most of us would sooner look the other way and hope for the best.
The author describes this book as an ‘auto- biographical novel’, but since it would be quite beyond me to distinguish fact from fiction in this hair-raising account of his childhood years, I propose to treat it as if it were all true, especially as I can’t imagine anyone making any of it up.
My dread was that someone would ask me my opinion of Lermontov or Superstring Theory or the Categorical Imperatives of Kant.
In equal measure, this book is fascinating and irritating.
As a five-year-old in the Arab quarter of Jerusalem in the 1950s, Kai Bird overheard an elderly American heiress offering $1 million to anyone who could solve the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The phrasing of the subtitle is exact: a memoir in blindness, not of blind- ness.
Among my guests last weekend as I read Lord Mandelson’s book was Ben, aged two and a half.
How am I? Very well, thank you.
Anyone who can speak Welsh is going to get a lot of fun from this book.
‘Next time it’s full buggery!’ said Christopher Hitchens as I helped him onto a train at Taunton station after a full luncheon of Black Label, Romanée-Conti, eel risotto and suckling pig.
John Simpson quotes Humbert Wolfe’s mischievous lampoon but makes it clear that, in spite of the somewhat disobliging title of his book, he does not accept it as fair comment.
Very long books appear at intervals about Fidel Castro and Che Guevara.
In late middle age, William Styron was struck by a disabling illness, when everything seemed colourless, futile and empty to him.
First, I must declare an interest.
Sport, say those who write about it, is only the toy department of daily journalism.
Bob Geldof is quoted on the cover of Gary Kemp’s autobiography with untypical succinctness: ‘Great bloke, great band, great book’.
My daughter when small came home from school one night singing these extraordinary lines: ‘Fortune, my foe, why dost thou frown on me/ And will thy favours never lighter be?’
An Education, by Lynn Barber