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Review: Back Story by David Mitchell

Hold up!

See that little date above?

This post was published years ago.

My opinions have changed over time: I think it's quite fun to keep old posts online so that you can see how that has happened. The downside is that there are posts on this site that express views that I now find offensive, or use language in ways I'd never dream of using it today.

I don't believe in airbrushing history, but I do believe that it's important to acknowledge the obvious: some of what I've written in the past has been crap. Some of it was offensive. Some of it was offensively bad. And there's may be some brass among the muck (you can make up your own mind on that).

Some of what I've presented as my own views has been me—wittingly or unwittingly—posturing without having considered all the facts. In a few years, I'll probably think the same about what I'm writing today, and I'm fine with that. Things change. People grow. Society moves forward.

The internet moves on too, which means there might be broken links or embedded content that fails to load. If you're unlucky, that might mean that this post makes no sense at all.

So please consider yourself duly warned: this post is an historical artefact. It's not an exposition of my current views nor a piece of 'content' than necessarily 'works'.

You may now read on... and in most cases, the post you're about to read is considerably shorter than this warning box, so brace for disappointment.

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.

This post was filed under: Book Reviews, .

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Comments and responses

Comment from nash


    22.46, 23/05/2013

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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