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Nasty: My Family and Other Glamorous Varmints Paperback – November 9, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (November 9, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416586342
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416586340
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,089,154 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Nastiness is rich. Nastiness is fun." And in this colorful memoir, nasty is also quite enjoyable. Doonan (Wacky Chicks), creative director of Barney's New York, was raised in the industrial wasteland of 1950s and '60s Reading, England. He craved glamour and excitement; what he had instead were two cheeky working-class parents: the fabulous Betty, who sported peroxide-yellow hair and spike heels; and Terry, who embraced amateur wine-making with near-religious fervor. After all, in an "extended family of assorted lodgers and mentally ill relatives," alcohol helped. "It was all quite nasty," Doonan explains, so he and his drag performer friend Biddie headed to London in search of the Beautiful People. Instead, they found crazy characters and lowly prostitutes, people Doonan recalls with unabashed glee. Armed with a relentless joie de vivre, Doonan takes readers on a breezy joyride through his life, focusing less on his career trajectory than on his kooky formative years. Humor is his ultimate weapon, and whether Doonan's in Los Angeles getting arrested in Vivienne Westwood plaid bondage trousers or coping with a gay-bashing policeman in Blackpool, he keeps his comic cool. This endearing book pays tribute to a madcap childhood and the power of familial love. Photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

The author of the hilariously fey Wacky Chicks (2003) fields another winner, recounting his pre-celebrity life among a nest of relatives who were unconventional at best, dubiously linked to sanity at worst. This eccentric British household included unorthodox, homemade wines (concocted from potato peelings and parsnips); a mother with towering, peroxided hair and a tendency to overimbibe those vintages; a butch sister self-denominated Jim; and Narg, a certifiable nutcase granny. Young Simon yearns for life away from the Midlands, in London among the beautiful people. After time there with good friend Biddie--during which he endures poverty; banging, gurgling plumbing; and an earsplitting prostitute neighbor--and years at university, struggling to develop a gay identity, Simon repairs to America at 27, only to be arrested by Tom-of-Finland-ish police while wearing "plaid bondage trousers." Not to worry; he becomes a literary wit and raconteur whose latest will draw and amuse many. Whitney Scott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Regular Guy Reader on July 30, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book is hilarious!!! It literally had me laughing out loud. It's one of the funniest books I've ever read. I highly recommend it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By bookie on July 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book is incredibly funny--the kind that makes you laugh out loud. (Some lines were so great, I had to read them out loud to my husband). I think it is Doonan's funniest. What's really surprising about this book, however, is how touching and inspiring it is. Without a false note, Doonan's hilarious memoir is also a loving portrait of his strong, brave, (and yes, poor and crazy) family. In the end, the story is incredibly inspiring. Doonan is one of the most creative minds working in fashion and design today and this is the story of how he got there in spite of many odds against him. It is a fascinating and very freeing portrait of creativity.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Owen Keehnen on December 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover
With NASTY Simon Doonan joins the likes of Sedaris and Augustin Burroughs in the hilarious dysfunctioinal gay memoir sweepstakes. I was enarmored of Doonan's tales of growing up with his lobomized Narg (granny), saucy Mom, strange aunts, best friend Biddie, and a plethora of other VERY memorable characters. By way of a thematic construct -- the book traces Noonan's lifelong quest for The Beautiful People and glamour in all shapes and forms -- and oh what a journey it is! There are laughs galore and several touching passages as well in this joyous romp through the past by born storyteller Doonan.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mark V. Rose Dr on February 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover
[...]
NASTY is a funny, campy, saucy, uninhibited memoir of a scrawny, geeky, distinctly "unfabulous", gay kid from a working class neighborhood in Reading England who tries to climb up the unsteady ladder of success and fabulousness. Given the gargantuan ambition the youngster has to get his goal, it is not surprising that in a long tradition of self-creation (a la Madonna and uncountable others), he attains it. Simon finally gets "there". Mind you, it's not overnight, but for the reader, it's well worth the effort.
Simon, along with his queenie pal Biddie moves from what seemed to the teen-ager at the time very tacky, humble beginnings to less tacky environments, finally progressing to London and New York. On the way, he tries to fit in with what he thinks are "the beautiful people"--usually deceiving himself that he's right up "there" with the high and mighty. The results are hilarious and delightfully grotesque.
Eventually Simon realizes the "fabulous folks" aren't always so great after all. NASTY is a bright, witty exposure that "fabulous" can sometimes be as false as it is fun.
The author, Simon Doonan, is a fine debunker of illusions and self-dillusion. As an example of what the adolescent Simon thought was hot glam, he describes the attire he sported on the beach to impress the working classes of his North England town as they stood by probably regarding the spectacle as a form of weird "street theatre."
"What was wrong with them? Hadn't they ever seen a man in a Mickey Mouse shirt; high-waisted, navy blue, pleated Oxford bag trousers, and matching navy blue, women's Bata platform ankle boots with four-and-a-half inch heels, teetering across the sand before?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By malibusu on August 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. How could you not laugh out loud when he describes breaking the skull of his blind aunt (sounds sick, I know, but taken in context...). I recommend this book to anyone who needs a light read. I think this book is quite good.
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29 of 40 people found the following review helpful By FateJacketX on June 10, 2005
Format: Hardcover
When I fell upon my very first comedic memoir, "Naked" by David Sedaris, I thought it was very funny. He wrote his essays with a mock sarcasm and an intelligent enough wit that his being homosexual was always an afterthought. He puts his story first, above all else, and never seems like he's trying to be funny. When you do something well and make it look easy, that's talent. Now I know why so many readers love to compare Sedaris with all the other resident gay memoir writers. Because he's top tier. He's the best thing going.

Several rungs down is Simon Doonan, author of "Nasty: My Family and Other Glamorous Varmints." Doonan bills it as a sort of indictment of strange upbringing by even stranger guardians. Well, it's not about that at all. He lightly...so lightly touches on his insane grandmother, lobotomized uncle, devil-may-care alcoholic parents and various family friends that come into and out of his life. In truth, the subtitle to his novel takes the backseat in lieu of the real deal: numerous celebrations, anecdotes, misgivings and stories about being gay. Every single story is basically about gay Doonan who does this and that, as long as we understand that he's always playing for the "other team." Really, it's like a funny, gay porno without the sex.

Wait, did I say funny? Heck yeah, it's funny. A great deal of his more humorous tales just wouldn't fly without all the prissy overtones, so sometimes I understand where he's coming from. When he gets arrested for drunk driving, the best parts involve jokes about his hilarious drag outfit. And the gut-busting chapter where he compares his "nelly" self to his manly, tough-as-nails grandfather is pricelessly appropriate to his "theme.
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