Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Bonkers: My Life in Laughs by Jennifer Saunders

In order to attract readers, publishers usually condense the contents of a book into a short blurb to place noticeably somewhere on the book jacket. But, they obviously didn’t think Bonkers needed such a pithy summary written by some backroom publishing hack. Instead, on the back cover, you get Saunders introducing her memoir in her own words, which is the exact reason you would want to read it in the first place.

As one of Britain’s longstanding and much loved comedians, Saunders knows how to entertain. And, judging by the amount of procrastination she describes when trying to write the book, she takes her job as entertainer quite seriously. She promises oodles of name-dropping and as much embellishment as she can get away with. Her caveats are a lack of misery (good memoir fodder) and a significant dearth of memory for many parts of her life (she’s not alone on that one).

Bonkers rambles along, back and forth, stopping and starting stories as related memories pop into mind. This may be a result of her self-confessed memory deficiencies, but I get the impression she just finds the old format of start, middle, and ending rather tedious for both reader and writer. You get her unique method of writing modelled really well and it’s quite hard to know how much she really is the characters she writes, or, how much of her memoir is written ‘in character’. You’ll have to judge that one yourself.

Everyone’s got a confession or two to make and Saunders owns up to a few lapses and failures, endearingly told and, of course, stuffed with laughs. Her experience of breast cancer is in there too, but she’s made of a whole lot sterner stuff than poor old Edina from Ab Fab – no petulant, self-indulgent rants on that subject – more the stiff upper lip and indomitable Blitz spirit.

She moves on from cancer, upbeat and back to form. Life continues, with the expectation of more good things to come. When the book ends, you are left with the vague impression that Saunders is meandering off into the sunset, glass in hand, ready for the next round of both refreshment and life in general. The photos are great fun and Bonkers leaves you feeling uplifted and believing that life is absolutely fabulous, despite the tricky bits. There aren’t many better ways to spend your time than curled up in the company of a witty, irreverent comedian.
Reviewed by Spot   
Catalogue Link:  Bonkers: My Life in Laughs

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