Naturally by their very nature memoirs are retrospective. This one certainly is. But it goes further than simply recording the author’s past life. Or simply entertaining the reader. Nicholas Clee honestly faces up to how he has behaved. Yet he does not stop there. He seeks to understand why he behaved as he did on various occasions. Sometimes it is not so much his behaviour but his values, prejudices and compliances that are considered.
This is an honest analytical look at underlying reasons and/or motivations. Most readers will find at least one, if not more, incidents that touch on their own lives. It may become a little uncomfortable at times; when a reader realises they have behaved in a similar fashion. But there is the saving grace of the author then explaining why people sometimes act the way they do. Not only does he draw from his own life but also from those of famous and well-known personalities.
In some ways this could be referred to as an intellectual memoir. However, that does not mean it is boring, highbrowed or beyond anyone with an average IQ. It is in fact a very interesting read. It does not follow the standard format of most memoirs but this does not detract. Readers should be aware it is not a very long read: ninety-one pages.
The book is very well written. Not surprising, bearing in mind the authors experience as a journalist and editor. Nevertheless, the reader will appreciate finding themselves plunged straight into the story from the very beginning. There is no unnecessary preamble or background detail. There are a couple of times when the reader may feel the author has spent a little too long enlarging on a theme but these are rare and may be attributed to him wanting to ensure a specific point is fully clarified.
As previously said this is not a standard memoir. Nevertheless, it is recommended to anyone interested in absolute honesty and who has a desire to understand what underlies some of their fellow citizens’ behaviours.
Being a non-standard memoir the readership for it is probably limited when compared to those presented in the more usual style. Nonetheless, it is, overall, an enjoyable read. Four stars (4*).
The book is available in digital format as an e-book: