Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
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This is a practical guide on how to write a living eulogy of your Self, as though it is a martyr pretending to something else.
Crisp's wit and intelligence is his saving grace in this, his autobiography written in the middle of his life, but his despondent attitude constantly leaned me to think him a whiner. His seemingly inadvertent bravery in coming out as homosexual in the 1920s is more than remarkable, and he even stood up for in a court case where policemen accused him for attempting to prostitute himself; the case was dismissed.
Crisp's writing is at times essential and a great example of intelligence and humor intertwined, e.g.:
<blockquote>For about twenty years I lived in a state of intoxication with my own existence and, perhaps for that very reason, excess of alcohol was one of the extremes to which I felt no urge to fly. I asked many people why they drank so much but never received an explanation that I fully understood. It was the tales of their escapades while under the influence of drink that brought me nearest to comprehending their need for it. It seemed to give them a few hours of freedom from rates which, during the rest of their lives, they reluctantly obeyed. If this was true, then in the example of my life lay a cure for drunkenness, though it was hardly an answer which Harley Street would have approved. The prophylactic is, never to conform at all.</blockquote>
In short, a mostly interesting, saddening and self-made tragedy made by a man who transformed himself into a work of art and shed himself of music and love. Do see the documentary "Resident Alien" on Crisp, made as Crisp was turning 80 years of age. He moved to New York at the age of 74 and the documentary does give a few very different views on his life, at least as it was lived during the latter part, which shows this autobiography as a work of art onto itself, but knowing Crisp - and most people - how could it be anything else?
Niklas Pivic said on Aug 22, 2011, 10:55
I can't believe it. It's painful (especially because Crisp was the last generation to suffer and be beaten; he describes with undisguised bitterness how gay men had it really easy from the late Sixties in his opinion) but also a total riot, Crisp is one of the sharpest tongues in history. I particularly love the passage about women and gays (so horribly true....) and the description of how the national morals completely crumbled during the Blitz, which nobody tells you in history books and which tells a lot about real human nature. "When WWII was declared I went out and bought a pound of henna".
Paola said on Mar 11, 2008, 04:06