Just finished Margrave of The Marshes, John Peel's autobiography. He wrote about one hundred and fifty pages of it before dying suddenly in October of 2004. His wife, Sheila, and their four kids, completed the book.
The Peel tone that worked well on BBC 1 and in the Radio Times columns doesn't work so well over the long haul. The self-deprecation—a trait to which he refers repeatedly—becomes narcissism when extended beyond the link or blurb. Peel also rocks an insecure, faux literary style (the phrase "reason insisted" pops up three times) that works fine over a beer—or the airwaves—but not in a book. Sheila's section is better, though she has some of the same cutesy tics. I'm a Peel fanatic, and read it in one gulp, as will any fellow traveller, but it's not going to convert anyone who wasn't already hoarding old Peel cassettes and tapes of Home Truths.
If it's England you're after, I would point you instead to Kevin Sampson, little known here. He's a bonafide scouser (unlike Liverpool supporter but Suffolk resident Peel) and secret master of the sex-and-vernacular game that Irvine Welsh has made a few houses on. Start with Awaydays.
(Peel's name was Ravenscroft. Peel was made up by someone, perhaps a secretary, at the BBC.)Posted by Sasha at November 8, 2005 07:26 AM | TrackBack