August 31st, 2009


August Books

This seems to have been a long month. I've already written about several of these books.
Cold Cream, by Ferdinand Mount, has to be one of the best autobiographies I’ve ever read in my life, such a pleasure I could hardly put it down. It doesn't seems fair that one man should have met so many interesting people in his life but then, it’s possible to lead a fascinating life and write a very dull book about it. Mr Mount had the advantage of being half a Pakenham, so was provided with a large family network including ‘Uncle Tony’: Anthony Powell. There’s his parents’ friends (a lively crowd), boys met at prep school and Eton who went on to be famous, then Oxford and Fleet Street. To crown everything, he became head of the Policy Unit at No.10 working closely with Margaret Thatcher. I found the political chapters the least interesting, preferring the Dance to the Music of Time-style (Uncle Tony again) meeting of old acquaintances throughout the book; Ferdy as a real life Nick.

Mr Mount follows Mark Twain’s advice to start an autobiography where you please and wander about at will. The first section of the book is written entirely in the present tense. The crucial event in it, the death of his mother, is something the reader knows will come; the episodic rather than chronological narrative postpones the actual event, which makes it all the more poignant when it happens. Margaret Thatcher apparently hired him because ‘you are such a wordsmith’, making it sound, according to the author, about on a par with being a dental technician. He certainly can write and I may look out for more of his books.
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