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I am unimpressed
The Sound of Laughter
Member Name: Morgenhund
The Sound of Laughter
Advantages: Gives an insight to his characters
Disadvantages: poor written, ponderous, unexciting, hard to read
Having lapped up Peter Kay DVDs over the last few years, and being stuck for an idea what my sister could have got me for my Christmas present, I went on to Amazon to see what was recommended and Peter Kay’s autobiography "The Sound of Laughter" popped up. Given its "Sound of Music" styled cover, I was drawn to it, even though I am usually not a fan of autobiographies when they are written when the subject is someone who has had a relatively short period of time in the limelight - I used to associate autobiogs as being practically like a personal obituary when in one's dotage. Nowadays celebs trot them out in their 20s and 30s - there is none of the "50 years in show business" style of autobiographies – look at Messrs. Cole, Beckham and Rooney as examples – possibly that is why Perry Groves’ autobiography sold better than theirs...
Peter Kay has jumped on this bandwagon, just prior to Christmas 2006, and given his stage performances, I thought I would have a good enjoyable read. I don’t wish to sound condescending but a lot of the life he talks about is deadly dull and humdrum - mind you, you can see how his inspiration for characters came about. Written as someone in his early 30s – and whose star has possibly yet to shine its brightest, the autobiography is somewhat premature. The book covers his somewhat dull, focusless and mediocre years prior to getting the big break – sure this is a part of anyone’s life, but to devote seven eighths of the book to this is a mite extreme – especially when they are relatively uneventful years that he has had.
Everyone associates Peter Kay with his storytelling – it works well in stand-up, but falls down as a way of writing a book. On occasions I had to re-read sentences twice or three times, as they didn't seem to make sense - stream of consciousness is not really how to write a book, if you ask me. There were also typos and poorly written paragraphs which found me getting exasperated at the book, it smacked of being a rush job – something which other reviewers of the book have claimed to be the case, and that he admitted in interviews.
Possibly as an audio book, or a live performance it might have worked a bit better, but it was not up to scratch as book. With the fact that it is too stop-start and difficult to read in a single sitting, a lot of the comedic value in it might have got lost. I found it too ponderous to read it straight through – more heavyweight autobiographies e.g. that of Marcel Reich-Ranicki, the famous biographer of Thomas Mann have been enthralling due to the fact that they were so interesting and never dull. Chapters about working in Cash and Carries and Petrol Stations just don’t compare.
The only positive thing I can find to say about the book is that it does to a certain extent explain where his characters came from - e.g. Den Perry. His comedy has always been "Bolton-centric" but the extent to which this is also true of his life is almost disturbing - I understand that he had a difficult upbringing and that there wasn’t cash around to allow him to lead the fantastic life growing up that I for example experienced. I can understand that he is "Bolton boy becomes national superstar" and that he has had a rough time along the way, but then again, it is sometimes over-egged to the extent that you get impatient with his ramblings - maybe that's because I am a more "get up and go" or "carpe diem" kind of guy...
I doubt that my sister would have spent the full price on this book – GBP 18.99 for the hardback version is simply way too much – I note that Amazon are currently offering it for under ten pounds – a better price tag but still too much for a book that doesn’t live up to the reputation that Peter Kay’s comedy has built for him. All in all I’d recommend getting this from your local library if you want to read it – but not to shell out on it. Very disappointing.
Summary: borrow this from a library rather than buying it...
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