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Review: Back Story by David Mitchell



by sjhoward

This is the 1,916th post. It was published at 09:30 on Wednesday, 5th December 2012.

I publish a book review every other Wednesday. You can browse all previous reviews here.

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This is another review of a celebrity autobiography. As with all celebrity autobiographies, if you’re a fan of the celebrity, there’s a high probability that you’ll enjoy the book. If not, you’re unlikely to read it anyway. That’s a point that’s made often, but that probably bears repeating.

The structure of this book is slightly novel, in that it follows Mitchell on a walk around London, with reminisces and comic riffs inspired by things he sees along the way. The idea isn’t half hammered home, though, particularly given the weakly punning title. And I think it’s fair to say that little of the content is deeply insightful: it’s mildly embarrassing to buy underwear; membership of Footlights provides a firm footing for launching one’s career in comedy; most ideas pitched to television companies don’t get commissioned; and having the same name as a popular author sometimes causes confusion.

That said, I like David Mitchell, so I enjoyed the book. The content isn’t groundbreaking, but it is at least communicated with warmth and a degree of endearing self-deprecation. And I found the last chapter, in which Mitchell discusses his relationship with Victoria Coren, genuinely heartwarming. Others have described it as overly syrupy, but I disagree – I thought it was lovely.

It’s hard to know what else to say, really. Mitchell comes across as a thoroughly likeable guy, and this is a highly readable but equally forgettable walk through a life that has been lived without all that much trauma, distress or heartache. It’s a light read that, as a fan of Mitchell, I find it hard not to recommend. But it’s hardly life-changing stuff.

Back Story is available now from amazon.co.uk in hardback and on Kindle.

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Comments and responses

Comment from nash


by nash

Comment posted at 22:46 on 23rd May 2013.

Good review, you can check out the new book trailer for the paperback and also follow his new videos which will be released over the next few weeks, David takes the walk he refers to in the book and stops at certain points to recount memories and make typically David-esque observations. Watch the video here and keep up to date with the forthcoming videos http://youtu.be/zjs4Kc00Fr4


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