24 August 2009

Pete Doherty: My Prodigal Son (Jacqueline Doherty)

We're alive!!

My only excuse for not having posted in such an abysmally long time is that I was feeling remarkably uninspired by reading, writing and life in general for the past month or so. 'What is the point?' I asked myself daily, hands shaking from the 6 espressos I was consuming in order to stay awake in case my inane and pedestrian existence suddenly managed to become interesting again.

However, I have been to Italy and back and have achieved a seriously awesome tan. It seems that is all it took to get me excited about getting out of bed in the morning again.

As for Earhart, I have no idea why she stopped blogging. I think we both needed a break and can now resume author/novel ripping with renewed vigour (with the occasional positive review because we do like the free books that have been coming in... thank you publishers!)

My comeback review is on Pete Doherty: My Prodigal Son, by his mother Jacqueline Doherty. When I saw this in my fave Oxfam bookshop (Notting Hill... recommended, but don't get into conversation with the owner. Unless you have A DECADE to spare) I grabbed it immediately. I'm a sucker for musical biographies at the best of times, but the chance to read about the early life of a drug-addled musician whom I adore from the probably biased, blinkered and no-doubt naive perspective of his mother was not something I was willing to give up.

It did not disappoint.

Jacqui seems a little deliberately obtuse and sheltered about the whole thing. She is always happy that Pete has no track marks on his arms and is ultimately dismayed when chasing is explained to her. She also takes an old stuffed toy of Pete's to a gig in hopes it will cheer him up. However, the book is bearable because she has a mischievous sense of humour (the kind reserved for the very young, the very old and the terminally positive), telling Pete not to drop the soap the first time he is sent to jail being one such moment. She and Pete's grandmother also seem to have attended numerous gigs of Pete's, which makes her awesome in my book. Imagine Jacqui and Nanny Doherty, standing there in a Babyshambles gig whilst Pete siphons blood out of his arm and squirts it on the audience (ALLEGEDLY). I'm not sure my Grandma would enjoy that sort of evening.

The writing style is passable for someone who is not a writer by nature. She does that cute older person thing where they put slang or terminology alien to them in inverted commas and she goes off on tangents (frequently religious) far too often but other than that the overall style is tolerable. What I was really disappointed in was the scanty amount of information about Pete that was in there. I want to read about childhood experiences that could have spawned the lyrics for 'Don't Look Back Into the Sun', not how one Christmas Pete came to the table not at all appropriately dressed and was asked to go change his clothing.


I give this a tentative thumbs up if you want to read about how the Doherty family are affected by the 'Peter Problem' as they call it, but if you want to read something superb, raw and shatteringly perspicacious, read Pete's The Books of Albion, which is a collection of his letters, diary entries, song lyrics and general scribblings. Much of it is somewhat illegible and most of it is esoteric in the extreme, but upon completion you will understand what it is like to delve partly into the mind of an utter genius.

Rating: 5/10.
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