Vanished Years is Everett’s new memoir – his first, Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins, is recognised as one of the best ever celebrity autobiographies. I’ve not read it, although if Vanished Years is anything to go by I can see why it got accolades. He is bitchy and brutally assessing, to others and of himself. He’s not above heaping on cliche, however he gets away with it because at other times he’s so powerfully descriptive or damn funny that one is willing to overlook quibbles (it sags just a little at the 3/4 mark). It’s a sad book, really, as he writes extensively about the death of his father and certain friends: the chapter about Natasha Richardson made me cry.
She (Vanessa Redgrave) leads me and Robert by the hand towards the open casket, in which Natasha lies, cocooned in white satin on a lacy pillow for eternity, in virginal white with rust-coloured make-up on her gaunt lifeless cheeks. Vanessa, like a seasoned undertaker, or an actress who has mastered a difficult prop, neatly lifts the bottom half of the casket lid to reveal a blue woollen blanket covering Tasha’s legs.
‘She loved this,’ mouths the matriarch, stroking the body and kissing the hands of her dead daughter.
God, I couldn’t even imagine. I’m tearing up now, thinking about it.
The Winterson is for my Book Challenge. My girlfriend loaned me her copy of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. It’s fat, almost formidable in length, and I’ve been warned that it gets slow in patches but the rewards by the end are more than satisfactory, making the effort worthwhile. Like a fat Dickens novel, I’m thinking.
What are you reading this month?