Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself by Alan Alda (Random House, 2007) Alda’s second memoir falls short of ‘Never Have Your Dog Stuffed’ insomuch that the framing material—as Alda seems to see it; in fact, the actual memoir—shares too much space with speeches that he has given and which inspired his reflections.
Stephen Fry In His Own Words (AudioGo, 2013) A procession of interviews in which Stephen Fry, articulate as ever, talks about himself and his work. The selection draws heavily on appearances promoting his autobiographies, which, unless Fry is putting on an accent, have tended then rather to supersede the interviews…
Photograph by Ringo Starr (Genesis, 2015) ‘I just loved taking pictures and I still do,’ writes Ringo Starr; hence this big glossy book that pairs his photographs with skerricks of unpretentious memoir (primarily pre-Beatles and Beatlemania). As with the music, Ringo had the best seat in the house.
So, Anyway… by John Cleese (Crown, 2014); audiobook read by the author (Bolinda, 2016) Cleese sounds very hoarse at first, but builds into his performance and remains the perfect choice to narrate his own half-life story (that prior to Monty Python), bringing rhythms and emphasis that might not otherwise be evident. Amusingly told and intelligently introspective.
Is There Life Outside the Box? An Actor Despairs by Peter Davison (John Blake, 2016) Peter Davison is self-deprecating to a fault in this frank, entertaining, career-spanning autobiography, taking responsibility for his failings but not his successes (which are put down to good fortune and the one acting ability Davison is prepared to acknowledge: hitting his mark).
Darren Lockyer: Autobiography by Darren Lockyer with Dan Koch (Random House, 2011) Rugby league player Darren Lockyer shows himself to be atypically down to earth and introspective; his autobiography is an easy read, giving insight into the mindset of a country kid turned top level footballer, as well as (in particular) coach Wayne Bennett.
Stephen Fry Live at the Sydney Opera House (ABC, 2010) Even while speaking more or less off the cuff, Stephen Fry remains engaging; yet precious few of the stories told at this performance won’t already be familiar to those who have read his three autobiographies (of which only one postdates the DVD).
Adventures with the Wife in Space by Neil Perryman (Faber & Faber, 2013) Several Everyman’s autobiographies have been structured around Doctor Who, each perfectly readable if of limited appeal. The titular allusion of this one doesn’t actually work (as the author himself would have noted) but Sue Perryman’s affably caustic interruptions make the trip worthwhile.
Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist by Michael J. Fox (Hyperion, 2008) Much-loved film and television star Michael J. Fox seems, if anything, even more likeable in this memoir covering his post-acting life with Parkinson’s. The titular optimism comes across not only by way of his actions but in his engaging, companionable writing style.
One Flew into the Cuckoo’s Egg by Bill Oddie (Hodder & Stoughton, 2008) Bill Oddie’s autobiography largely omits both birdwatching and The Goodies, preferring instead Oddie’s rather bleak childhood and pre-celebrity years (an engaging reminiscence by someone who’s come to terms with his demons), then his post-celebrity battles with depression (detailed honestly and without self-pity).