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Maggie and Me Hardcover – April 25, 2013


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Editorial Reviews

Review

Shocking and funny in equal measure, and will have you weeping with laughter and sorrow -- Katy Guest Independent on Sunday The wonderful story of a remarkable man, Maggie & Me is heartbreaking and heartwarming. As gripping as a thriller, laugh-out-loud funny and deeply touching, this book will resonate long after you finish it. A triumph SJ Watson, author of Before I Go to Sleep Out of poverty, brutality and prejudice, Damian Barr builds something riveting, touching and painfully funny. His account of growing up under Thatcher's regime defines the experience of a generation. At once personal and universal, Maggie & Me is a work of stealthy genius Maggie O'Farrell A marvellous memoir - wrenching, funny and wise. I loved it! Joanne Harris This amazing book tells the story of an appalling childhood with truth and clarity unsmudged by self-pity. It grips from beginning to end and leaves the reader elated at the fact that such experiences can be overcome and produce a man who can write a book so vivid, so unsentimentally forgiving, and so memorable Diana Athill This book will break your heart and make you angry; then it will lift your heart and make you glad; because Damian Barr has transmuted a grim childhood into a work of art and brought forth beauty from ashes Richard Holloway That Damian Barr survived his childhood is testament to his startling courage and determination.That he was then able to write about the experience with such wit, verve and candour is equally astonishing. Maggie & Me is a cause for celebration on all kinds of levels. Rejoice! Rupert Thomson Damian Barr sifts through the wreckage of a horrific childhood and manages to extract humour, generosity of spirit and ultimately joy, and he does it with a literary lan that had me re-reading whole paragraphs, just for the pleasure of it. To say I loved it doesn't begin to convey the mixture of emotions - tears, laughter, anger - I felt while reading it. This book should be required reading for children who need to know that there is life beyond an appalling beginning, and for politicians who prefer to look the other way Jojo Moyes author of Me Before You Like all too few memoirs, in a bloated, me-me age, Maggie & Me ends all too soon. Imagine one of the sharper Mitford sisters cruelly reborn into the family from Shameless and you've an idea of the treat in store. Barr tells his engaging, sad-funny story of a camp, bright lad in dire circumstances in Thatcher-era Motherwell in such a beguilingly confiding, arm-linking style, that I felt I'd made a new best friend only to lose them to a world of glittering opportunities. Read this at once before someone films it, as they most surely will Patrick Gale This is the most vital, visceral memoir since Jeanette Winterson's Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal? . Barr's depiction is so pungent, so earth-shattering it's a universal story of alienation - one for anyone who's ever felt desperate to escape. His childhood, evoked with such cheek-biting tenderness, now seems more real and more Technicolor than my own. I won't be happy until everyone reads this book Patrick Strudwick Timely confessional - zestfully observed, sharply written, and sprinkled with more lyricism and humour than a memoir of misery in Motherwell suggests -- Boyd Tonkin Independent Maggie & Me is a perfect chip supper of a memoir: nostalgic, tart, crisp and seductive. It's also sad, kind, witty, and sexy. And alarmingly educational Louisa Young Brilliantly observed, searingly intimate and painfully truthful, Maggie & Me brought the eighties back to me at the same time as making me question my established views of the whole decade. In other words, like the very best books, it changed me a little Sathnam Sanghera author of The Boy with the Topknot 'A nuanced, subtle and original account ... What could have been a flip idea with no real substance turns out to be a memoir which is both personally moving and a valuable historical document. Barr's style is conversational, intimate and convincing, and he resists every opportunity to show off. He holds his nerve tackling the unfashionableness of his thesis - that Thatcher inspired even those she seemed to despise - and makes us smile along the way -- Christena Appleyard Literary Review Certain memoirs catch a moment and seem to define it, bottle it ... Damian Barr, I suspect, is about to do something of the same with this hugely entertaining book ... Full to the brim with poignancy, humour, brutality and energetic and sometimes shimmering prose, the book confounds one's assumptions about those years and drenches the whole era in an emotionally charged comic grandeur. It is hugely affecting -- Andrew Holgate Sunday Times Beyond his Maggie cult, this memoir can boast a humour, bravery and brio that cross all party lines Independent Certain memoirs catch a moment and seem to define it, bottle it ... Damian Barr, I suspect, is about to do something of the same with this hugely entertaining book ... Published with outrageous good timing ... Full to the brim with poignancy, humour, brutality and energetic and sometimes shimmering prose, the book confounds one's assumptions about those years and drenches the whole era in an emotionally charged comic grandeur. It is hugely affecting -- Andrew Holgate Sunday Times This memoir of deprivation and survival is shrewdly constructed and written with a winning dry humour -- Adam Mars-Jones Guardian A brilliant, laugh-out-loud and profoundly moving Eighties memoir GQ An inspiring read Marie Claire By turns funny, tender, and heartbreaking, it is also a useful primer for anyone too young to remember what life was like in the industrial areas of Britain enduring the changes wrought by Thatcherism... A gifted storyteller, weaving skilfully back and forth through time, and his unfussy prose flows delightfully... Splendid Independent on Sunday Hugely affecting memoir Sunday Times Unlike most volumes of this kind, Maggie & Me is short on jokes and long on raw, pungent atmosphere. Barr has a keen eye for wincingly evocative detail... Expressed with a kind of grim lyricism New Statesman A touching and darkly humorous memoir... Topical and heartfelt TNT Magazine Witty, gritty and inspiring Glamour Maggie and Me by Damian Barr has a startling new take on the former PM -- Mark Smith Herald Comi-tragic memoir Evening Standard A refreshing, affecting and ultimately triumphant account -- Ben Felsenburg Metro Timely confessional - zestfully observed, sharply written, and sprinkled with more lyricism and humour than a memoir of misery in Motherwell suggests -- Boyd Tonkin Independent A real storyline, touching and personal, and I found myself laughing Mail on Sunday [A] talented writer ... Barr captures very well how it is possible to learn and to love even in the most unpropitious environment. His book is the better for the strange loyalty it shows to the place he fled Daily Telegraph I was dazzled by the energy and verve of Damian Barr's memoir, Maggie & Me ... I've been shoving copies into people's hands all year -- Johanna Thomas-Corr Evening Standard Books of the Year Damian Barr's wonderful memoir Maggie & Me . was the coming-of-age story of this year -- Louise Doughty Observer Books of the Year Written with beautiful clarity and no self-pity - I look forward to seeing what he does next -- Stephanie Merritt Observer Books of the Year Damian Barr's Maggie & Me is easily my favourite book of 2013 ... There isn't a trace of bitterness in the beautiful book. Only the radiant eloquence of a man whose courage and humanity shine from its pages -- Alan Johnson New Statesman Books of the Year Charming, life-enhancing -- Melanie Reid The Times Books of the Year Barr's moving, funny, inspiring memoir of growing up gay in Motherwell is a virtuoso piece of autobiography that paints a vivid portrait of our country's recent past -- Patricia Nicol Metro Non-fiction Books of the Year The surprisingly funny and positive story of growing up gay in a working-class town in Thatcher's Britain. It's worth the cover price for the Dirty Dancing scene alone -- Katy Guest Independent on Sunday Books of the Year

About the Author

Damian Barr has been a journalist for over ten years writing mostly for The Times but also the Independent, Telegraph, Financial Times, Guardian, Evening Standard and Granta. He is the author of Get It Together: A Guide to Surviving Your Quarterlife Crisis, featured on Richard & Judy, and has co-written two plays for BBC Radio 4. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Faculty at the School of Life and host of the infamous Literary Salon at Shoreditch House. Damian Barr was named Writer of the Year at the 2013 Stonewall Awards. He lives in Brighton. @Damian_Barr
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (April 25, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408838060
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408838068
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #658,347 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Damian Barr is a journalist, writer and salonnière.

Shortlisted for a British Press Award, he has been a journalist for over a decade writing mostly for The Times but also the Independent, Independent on Sunday, Telegraph, Financial Times, Guardian, Evening Standard and Granta. He is currently Literary Editor of House magazine.

His first book, based on his Times column, was published by Hodder in 2005. 'Get It Together: A Guide to Surviving Your Quarterlife Crisis' was a bestseller and featured on Richard & Judy. In 2013 Bloomsbury will publish his new book. 'Maggie & Me' is a memoir of surviving small-town Scotland in the Thatcher years. Says Diana Athill: "This amazing book tells the story of an appalling childhood with truth and clarity unsmudged by self-pity. It grips from beginning to end and leaves the reader elated at the fact that such experiences can be overcome and produce a man who can write a book so vivid, so unsentimentally forgiving, and so memorable." In the wise words of no less literary a figure than Dolly Parton: "laughter through tears is my favourite mixed emotion". It's that kind of book.

He hosts his infamous Literary Salon at Shoreditch House where guests include Bret Easton Ellis, John Waters, Polly Samson, James Frey, David Nicholls, Colm Toibin, Jojo Moyes, Taiye Selasi, Alex Preston, David Mitchell, DBC Pierre and Naomi Alderman. He has hosted events with the British Council, the Orange Prize, Hay, the BBC National Short Story Award and the Man Booker Prize.

Damian has also co-written two plays for Radio 4 and appeared on Front Row and Today as well as The Verb. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts , Faculty at the School of Life and runs the Reading Weekend at Tilton House and Turnberry Resort.

He lives in Brighton with his partner and their intensely demanding urban chickens. He is tireless and giving in his search for the perfect martini.

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
5 star
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4 star
8%
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See all 13 customer reviews
Instead, he uses subtlety with great aplomb and the novel is better for it.
Mr G P Brown
Gripping read that takes you on a roller coaster of emotions from empathetic sadness to laugh out loud funny.
sarah
I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well written memoir.
boxfan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Milly on January 27, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Terrific read and very inspiring to all who are struggling to find themselves in uncertain times. I recommend it to all particularly Scots.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By sarah on July 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Gripping read that takes you on a roller coaster of emotions from empathetic sadness to laugh out loud funny. An incredibly well written memoir. Unforgettable and highly recommended
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By jfhunter on May 26, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I read this book in a very few long bursts. I couldn't put it down. The sensitive, raw subject matter tapped into my own history, unlocking many memories of events and times thought long faded; many of them made me smile and think fondly; many of them very emotional and challenging. The stark descriptions of a working class town, heavily reliant on heavy industry and how it fades and impacts the community echoed with my experiences, albeit experienced when a decade or so older. A spellbinding, incredibly well written book, Damian's prose keeps the industrial backdrop real and stark - hi prose and turn of phrase also makes us laugh out loud, and gasp too. Frequently!
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By P J Verner on April 29, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A really different coming of age story. Coming out without the pathos. An
Interesting take on UK society makes it more readable
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Interesting coming of age story. Damian grows up in a working class household and suffers at the hands of prejudice against his gayness. Also victim of violence. Suffused with humour and intelligence- a great read.
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Format: Hardcover
Loved how he told of a little boys' innocence and hope - with his realization of sexuality and what Maggie had to offer...well, it was just a very enjoyable, endearing read. I felt for him...
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By david bergman on July 20, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Damian Barr gives a warm but grueling account of what it meant to grow up gay in the decaying industrial cities of the north during the rule of Margaret Thatcher. It is also the story of entrenched hostilities of class and religion, Catholic against Protestant. What distinguishes this autobiography from others is the skill of its prose and its celebration of the teachers who stepped forward to help as much as they could and outsider of intelligence, sensitivity and love.
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