One wonders whether before any chat show appearance, Sir Michael pulls out a copy of this book and flicks through to pick out a few juicy numbers. That’s really what it feels like, a stream of well-worn anecdotes that he has polished to perfection across five hundred chat show couches. Undeniably it’s entertaining, but it also feels more than a little insubstantial.
Here’s something that’s never touched on. In the book Sir Michael has great fun with anecdotes about the kinds of things he and Terence Stamp used to get up to when they shared a flat together in the swinging sixties London. But I know from having read interviews with Terence Stamp (not with Sir Michael who only uses this book as a reference) that Michael Caine hasn’t actually spoken to him since about 1970. Why is Sir Michael so happy to hail this friendship while leaving out that it’s been dead for nearly fifty years now? What caused the schism? Why is this book so silent on this?
Once I had that omission in mind, I did start to notice other quirks. Why is the author’s brother so much in the background? How come we have one anecdote telling us about how he and Sean Connery met before they were famous, and another detailing his friendship with the only friend he kept around from his pre-fame days? A friend who isn’t Sir Sean. Are Sir Michael and Sir Sean no longer friends? It says here they are. It’s all very confusing.
An autobiography or a memoir needn’t necessarily be the author washing his linen in public, but it needs to have a little depth. There should be some heft. This though is just a collection of pretty much pain-free anecdotes and consequently seems insubstantial.
Well-known literary critic, Bartholomew Simpson once described Krusty the Klown’s autobiography as “self-serving with many glaring omissions.” This isn’t a bad book, but it does sail somewhat into that territory.
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