Jackz (tsunami_puppet) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

11 and 12

11. The Kenneth Williams Diaries - Kenneth Williams,edited by Russell Davies
Pages: 801
Blurb: For more than forty years Kenneth Williams, the much-loved actor, broadcaster and comedian, kept a journal whose existence he occasionally used as a threat ('You'll be in my diary!') but whose contents he tantalisingly kept almost completely to himself. After his death in 1988, rumours that the diaries might one day be published sent a shiver of anticipation and dread through the theatrical world. What would they reveal about friends and colleagues? What would they also disclose of the darker, lonelier side which people widely suspected lay behind Williams's outrageous public persona?
Now Russell Davies has edited over four million words of the diaries into a single volume which will not only be the most talked-about and long-awaited theatrical book sine the The Orton Diaries but which brings to light as complex and tormented a personality as has ever been revealed by any diary.
Central to Kenneth Williams's character were the deep contradictions of his sexuality. A byword for flamboyant 'camp',he dreaded personal commitment so much that he fought, not always successfully, to remain celibate all his life and guarded his privacy to an almost pathological degree. The tension this caused is a recurring theme, as are his obsessive hypochondria and frequent suicidal depressions.
Devastatingly honest about himself, he is equally uninhibited in his verdicts on his fellow-man. In his descriptions of Tony Hancock, Maggie Smith, Noel Coward, Joe Orton, Stanley Baxter, Sid James and countless others, his waspish sense of humour, love of anecdote and ear for dialogue are given full rein. In his Diaries, Kenneth Williams succeeded in creating one of the most scandalously entertaining and ultimately tragic self-portraits ever penned.
Thoughts: This book has taken me the best part of nine months to read - it is a beast in size. I got this while at university as I am a massive Carry On fan and know this is one of the trickiest books to find. Williams has always fascinated me and I was desperate to find out more about him.
I'm still not sure how I feel about his diaries. I know people describe it as funny, but the laughs were very few and far between. I learned a lot of surprising things about him - he was a staunch Tory, very racist yet also very liberal but extremely religious. Williams was full of contradictions. I feel that his wide use of vernacular was a mask to alienate people away from him, which ultimately back-fired as he was hugely popular.
Yup, still not sure how I feel on this.

12. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - JK Rowling
Pages: 223 (4567)
Blurb: Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy - until he is rescued by an owl, taken to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, learns to play Quidditch and does battle in a deadly duel. The Reason: HARRY POTTER IS A WIZARD!
Thoughts: Let's get the admission over with - I am three days away from turning 26 and this is the first time I have read Harry Potter. I'll admit it, I was one of those kids who avoided what was popular (that included Pokemon cards, also of this era) and staunchly refused to read Harry Potter. Also not being a huge fan of fantasy involving witches and weird creatures, I also gave it a miss. Not until watching a few of the films did I decide to finally give in and read the book.
The book is a lovely, pleasant read and I am glad I am old enough to appreciate it in it's entirety. Very glad the boyfriend has moved in and I can continue reading the full set!
Tags: autobiography, diary, harry potter, j.k. rowling, magic

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