Sunday, 6 March 2016

Stars, Cars And Crystal Meth: The Unlikeliest Confection

This is the unlikeliest confection: the life story of a promiscuous, gay, drug-using, Los Angeles PA ghostwritten by a highly esteemed English professor, literary critic and author. The conjunction is so odd I’m still blinking at the disconnect. But John Sutherland, who is emeritus professor of English at UCL and reviews books for The Times, is the father of Jack Sutherland and this is supposedly Jack’s story.

Jack was born in 1973 to an unmarried Irish shop assistant who came to England to have her baby and disappeared back to Ireland. He was adopted by John and his wife, both “eggheads”, who lived in a big house in Herne Hill. Jack should have had an idyllic childhood but three things told against him: first, he was bright but useless at school, probably because of dyslexia; second, he secretly knew he was gay; third, his father was an alcoholic — there were “blackouts, violence, even an arrest or two”.

But then, salvation. John was offered a prestigious job at a Californian university, moved the family to South Pasadena, and cleaned up. He has not touched alcohol since. Jack was then nine, and just embarking on his own addictions, starting with alcopops, graduating to vodka at 12, and then marijuana and LSD. All this, he says, because he didn’t want to think about his “crappy sexual orientation”. He hated being gay, and when, at 14, he lost his virginity to a man in a park, he was so revolted he threw up...

Lynn Barber's review of Stars, Cars And Crystal Meth in The Sunday Times.

This book has got lots of coverage in the broadsheets, dealing as it does with one of their favourite gay stories; the fallen woman saved!

This one even managed to get in the new scare word, chemsex.

PS Apropos of nothing, interesting to note how many acclaimed mis lit memoirs have been exposed as largely works of fiction.

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