- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 9 hours and 29 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Limited
- Audible.com Release Date: October 11, 2012
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B009P749J2
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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David Mitchell: Back Story Audiobook – Unabridged
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But David starts his story by talking about the daily walking exercise he started a few years ago to relieve a progressively deteriorating back condition (which is cleverly written in the title as a pun.) What he does as he takes you through his life and significant personal and professional events and anecdotes by mentioning in the first paragraph of each chapter a new and different landmark on his way along his exercise route. And a very interesting way to go about reading this story is by following it on Google Maps. I KNOW that sound creepy and stalk-y, but I live more than 4700 miles away, have no curiosity whatever about where he lives and the only hint he gives of where he lives is simply mentioning the name of the borough. He doesn't even give away his street name, much less his house number, but instead starts the story at the first main thoroughfare he reaches in his exercise route. And it is a doozy of an exercise route. But it was so interesting to call up each landmark or street name on Google maps and see what he saw and experience the physical journey with him. As an Anglophile, I found this method wonderful and educational.
It's a "wordy" book, which is silly way to describe any book; it makes one think that that the alternative would be a picture-y book. But he's educated and bright and his particular brand of humor is how he uses words to turn ordinary ideas into amusing ones. Again, a poor description of "wordy." This is definitely a "reader's" book, and I mean that in a way to convey that, if you aren't a devourer of books as a primary hobby and preference of how to spend an empty afternoon, this book will probably begin to weigh rather heavily along about the 4th or 5th chapter. But for me, I only craved more at the end. One of these days, I hope, he's going to write a series of books on a walking tour of ALL of London. It'll take him months, I'm sure. The best part is when he mentions his first (or 2nd, really) meeting of (the VERY pretty) Victoria Coren and his complete falling head over heels in love with her. But at that point, she's unavailable as she chose to pursue a relationship with someone else. And it can only be said that he quite literally pined for her. He pretty much admits it. Not in a crippling way; indeed, it was a motivation to turn a 20-minute exercise into an hour as a way to work through a broken heart. He mentions the other ways in which he tried to cope with a loss he was certain would be lifelong, none of which were fulfilling nor healthy, and most of which he regrets. Then, remarkably, a few years later, they meet again at the right time when she had run through that previous relationship. She was available and interested and he eventually got to marry the first, true love of his life. So it was amusing, interesting and, in the end, romantic. This last part would probably be considered a "spoiler," but his marriage to Victoria is public record and there are a few photos of his wedding online; the reader can hardly claim to have the story ruined because I told you how it ended.
His next book should be written as he walks through the very center of downtown London and describes his experiences with new fatherhood (if he wants kids; some people don't, which is fine.)
It goes into his youth and college years as well as meeting Robert Webb. It goes into his years of living on the edge before striking it rich and now living the "easy" life. Threaded through the whole tale is a walk through the suburbs of London... as if he is telling you his life story while you walk with him through the town.
The only problem you might have with this book is he writes the same way he talks. A bit haughty and scattered but always brings it back by the end. If you haven't listened to him talk, you might get annoyed with the way this reads... get bored or confused.
I found that to properly enjoy this book, I had to imagine his voice and cadence and it all fell into place for me.
The thin conceit of telling the story while going for a walk is great. It enables stories and related thoughts to co-exist without having to over cook them with linking filler. It also enables a title that's both multi leveled and a pun. So he's snuck in a pun, and made it work and the title wasn't even his idea. The prick.
I enjoyed this s lot and the 2nd last chapter where the guy gets the girl (spoiler, meh you already know. By the time you read this he's 90 and his 3 kids are publicly fighting over the royalties to his wax statue in madam Tussaud's water closet) is especially great and bold of him to be so honest and open.
If you are a fan at all then have a read.
The final chapter is a lovely, eloquent and revealing proclamation of love for his wife, and also a neat closure to the picture of his single life that he has shared so entertainingly. A highly enjoyable light read.
Here's what's important if you're considering buying this book: It had me laughing out loud in all those bits and pieces I read - including the photo section where David's comment on himself in a very ill-fitting Superman costume as a cute little kid is hilarious.
I will have to add that I'm British by birth, although I've lived in the U.S. since the age of 5 - but maybe that early exposure to Britain makes me more appreciative of British humor and language. I dunno. I just know this was (what I've read so far) a terrif and funny read. Oh, and also, David's wonderful, romantic soul as evidenced when he speaks about his now wife, Victoria, melted my heart. It's nice to know guys like him are still around.
Can't wait to sit down and enjoy reading the whole thing.
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