- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Faber and Faber; 1st Edition edition (5 Aug. 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0571254802
- ISBN-13: 978-0571254804
- Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.8 x 23.4 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (152 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 164,115 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
How I Escaped My Certain Fate Paperback – 5 Aug 2010
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More About the Author
'Lee's bumper DVD extras-style assemblage echoes the revelatory sprawl of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest.... Stewart Lee has created a book which is at once a notable repository of technical insight, an invaluable insider's guide to three decades of British comedy, and as revealing a portrait of its author's life and opinions as even the most self-consciously confessional of conventional celebrity memoirs.' -- Ben Thompson, Independent on Sunday<br /<>br > ' (A) fascinatingly detailed account of what inspired, motivated and influenced his creativity ... the trials, insecurities and passions that have fuelled him over the past ten years are so honestly, amusingly, eloquently, and, often, viciously expressed that it only serves to further confirm his position as one of our leading 'alternative' national treasures. -- Time Out<br /<>br > 'It s a simply remarkable piece of writing: funny, wise, partial, propulsive. And then there are the footnotes, which comment on the shows like some frank, deliciously-detailed DVD commentary ... His writing ... has the irony, honesty, petulance and righteous zeal that we Lee fans demand ... an essential, invigorating investigation into the art, craft and culture of stand-up comedy. -- Dominic Maxwell, The Times <br /<>br > Required reading for comedy fans ... (Lee) is analytical, critical and perfectly willing to say when he finds himself proud of something he wrote, or occasionally ashamed. It is a fascinating insight into the process of creating comedy, and making months of work feel like a fresh, spontaneous show each night ... This book should win him some new fans and cement the dislike of old detractors. And it's impossible to imagine he would ever choose to do anything else. -- --Natalie Haynes, Observer
His marginalia offer an absorbing history of alternative comedy since the late 1980s, affectionate pen-portraits of misunderstood heroes, such as Johnny Vegas and Simon Munnery, and fascinating insights into his craft ... the wonderful achievement of this book is that it makes you as excited as Lee is by the capabilities of a man in a dark room with a microphone. -- Richard Godwin, Evening Standard<br /<>br > It rules! Have you ever noticed how transcripts of stand-up shows can make for some of the best fun material going? ... so long, so bitter and so thoroughly enjoyable. --Dazed and Confused<br /<>br > Funny, honest and insightful throughout. It deserves to make its author even more than he appeared on HIGNFY ... like the author s stage act, it is elliptical, repetitious and, inevitably, solipsistic. But in a good way ... in the hands of a lesser talent, this would be unbearably tedious, but Lee s verbal dexterity and exhaustive knowledge manages to make the experience cumulatively hilarious. -- --John Naughton, Word magazine
It works brilliantly ... complementing the very well-written autobiographical narrative that connects the routines and the footnotes are such rich mini-essays that I reached the end wishing there was an index, in order to relocate such observations as Lee s comparison of the Mighty Boosh's offbeat comic timing to dried stalks of spaghetti being dropped onto a china plate . How I Escaped My Certain Fate is a sophisticated demonstration of the poetics of comedy by an artist who, like Wilde, has been moved to public contrarianism in the belief that there is no sin except stupidity . -- Jeremy Noel-Todd, Daily Telegraph<br /<>br > It's a sort of autobiography, but really just as much a book about the way British comedy has changed ... usually, such copious asides are the sign of a very bad book but Lee pulls it off, mainly because his notes are invariably insightful, and frequently very funny. -- --William Cook, Independent
The acclaimed comedian presents a brilliantly funny and intelligent commentary on three of his most popular stand-up acts.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
One of the things that stands out about his stand-up work is how much of it he does to amuse himself, and how he is well aware and largely in control of alienating and regaining his live audiences.
The transcripts of his live sets are really interesting as the copious footnotes give them new depth, but they read pretty well too - although probably better for having watched the sets on dvd. I can't recommend this book highly enough for anyone interested in Stewart Lee in particular or stand up in general. It will make you laugh.
One thing, if you're easily offended, then I would urge you to read this book - you'll be offended, but it raises a lot of ideas about why you might be offended, and why Stewart Lee has bothered to offend you.
The pleasure for me was in discovering the minute workings of the routines, their carefully crafted structure, the precisely chosen word or phrase that sets up a linguistic or imaginative collision that keeps the audience suspended in a brilliant comic moment. Lee harnesses all his formidable comedic and intellectual powers to skewer the crass and the cruel, the dumbed-down mainstream and the self-regarding celebrity elite. He is both deadly serious and richly, sometimes absurdly, comic. And it is comedy that is always about something, always underpinned by the passions and preoccupations of an intelligent and idealistic man unafraid to challenge and even alienate his audience to make his point. But for all the seriousness of purpose Lee's performances are, first and foremost, brilliantly funny and original and this book is a valuable and enjoyable commentary upon them. "How I escaped..." is a mixture of copiously and fascinatingly footnoted transcripts of three live shows and autobiographical content that charts Lee's early career and fluctuating fortunes on the circuit.Read more ›
The book is very emotional, too. It delves right into the depths of his failures, in the 90s, to achieve what he wanted in a way he could be seen as successful. The way he matures as a result of his retirement from stand up in the early part of the century, through to his part in the Jerry Springer opera and subsequent return to stand up is fascinating to read.
But, what I think were the best bits of the book were the transcripts of his live shows where he interjected them with reasons why things worked or didn't work. The way he broke down his own routine and explained the intricacies of them in a way not at first obvious was great.
The only minor gripes I had with the book, the only things I could possibly criticise it for were; the fact he just referred to quotes by his mates as if they were the most profound and amazing things anyone had ever said, when actually they weren't always as impressive as he was making out; the slightly arrogant tone of a few of his anecdotes (although he was surprisingly humble in places when I didn't expect him to be); and I disagreed with some of his opinions - all of which were interesting to read none the less.
I wasn't exactly a massive fan of Stewart Lee's work before reading this book, but his book has converted me! Definitely recommended.
The most regularly occurring mistake is the word Comedian which mostly appears split into 'Com' and 'edian' - not something you really want in a book about a standup comedian. There are also numerous instances where lines are mysteriously broken, half way across. Granted, these mistakes don't render the book unreadable. But they are an unwanted distraction - a bit like an annoying click on a CD.
Having created a few ebooks myself, I know exactly how these typos occurred. Word Processing programmes like Word insert all kinds of mysterious hidden spaces and breaks that don't show up in most situations but do when you create an ePub or mobi files. That's why publishers should proofread their ebooks on devices like Kindles as well manuscripts printed from PDFs. It doesn't cost a lot of money. It doesn't take very much time. But unfortunately, such is the attitude of publishers to ebooks, most of them couldn't be bothered.
The most infuriating thing? The e-version of this book costs more than the paper version!
I thought long and hard before posting this review. The book Stewart Lee has written doesn't deserve a one-star review. As the other reviewers have testified it is funny, thoughtful and well-written. But the Kindle version, as a product, is faulty. It has flaws that render it unfit for purpose and people thinking of buying it should be warned.
Sadly, it's the only way to make publishers pick up their game. Bad reviews on Amazon upset authors and their agents. It's the only thing publishers react to.
My advice? Save a pound - and the aggravation - and buy the paperback version instead.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
excellent book, if you like Stewart Lee then you will love this.Published 8 days ago by Amazon Customer
Excellent item as described. Prompt dispatch, safe and sound. Top marks.Published 10 days ago by P. F. Tracgransglaws
I was given this book as a Christmas present by someone who noticed I liked Richard Herring. It’s quite some time since Lee and Herring were a double act but there are some... Read morePublished 27 days ago by Sarah Tipper
Fascinating insight into the mind and processes of a brilliant artist.Published 1 month ago by Oliver Switch
This is a satisfying read and if you're interested in more of how Lee compiles his thoughts for his shows than the big laughs you should buy it. Read morePublished 1 month ago by HSG
If stand-up is a performer laid bare, then it's not bare enough for Stewart Lee. Here he takes his urge to deconstruct further still, by deconstructing his career and his stand-up... Read morePublished 1 month ago by j.c.thompson
The written transcripts work well, even if you have seen the routines. The long footnote comments are interesting and very funny and there are also snippets of biography. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Authexist
Both very funny (if you are a Stewart Lee fan) but also the side notes and introductions are a fascinating insight in the life and routines of a stand up comedian suffering from... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Scott
This was really enjoyable, very much like his stand up, which this is about, so yay money well spent.Published 5 months ago by Dazzo