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Maggie & Me Hardcover – 25 Apr 2013


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing; 1st Edition edition (25 April 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408838060
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408838068
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.9 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (148 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 75,136 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Damian Barr is a journalist, writer and salonnière.

'Maggie & Me' is his story of surviving small-town Scotland in the Thatcher years. It won Sunday Times Memoir of the Year: "Full to the brim with poignancy, humour, brutality and energetic and sometimes shimmering prose, the book confounds one's assumptions about those years and drenches the whole era in an emotionally charged comic grandeur. It is hugely affecting."

BBC Radio 4 made it a Book of the Week. Following Jeanette Winterson in 2012, Stonewall named Damian Barr Writer of the Year 2013.

He hosts his own Literary Salon where guests include Bret Easton Ellis, John Waters, Polly Samson, James Frey, David Nicholls, Colm Toibin, Jojo Moyes, Taiye Selasi, Alex Preston, David Mitchell, DBC Pierre and Naomi Alderman. He hosts events with the British Council, Hay, the BBC National Short Story Award and the Man Booker Prize. He teaches a Masterclass in Memoir for the Guardian-UEA.

Shortlisted for a British Press Award, he has been a journalist for over a decade writing mostly for The Times but also the Independent, Independent on Sunday, Telegraph, Financial Times, Guardian, Evening Standard and Granta. He is currently Literary Editor of House magazine. His first book, based on his Times column, was published by Hodder in 2005. 'Get It Together: A Guide to Surviving Your Quarterlife Crisis' was a bestseller.

Damian has also co-written two plays for Radio 4 and appeared on Front Row, PM, Midweek, Broadcasting House and Today as well as The Verb. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Faculty at the School of Life and runs the Reading Weekend: www.readingweekend.co.uk

He lives in Brighton with his partner and their intensely demanding urban chickens. You can, if you really want to, follow him on twitter @damian_barr

Product Description

Review

Shocking and funny in equal measure, and will have you weeping with laughter and sorrow (Katy Guest Independent on Sunday)

The wonderful story of a remarkable man, Maggie & Me is heartbreaking and heartwarming. As gripping as a thriller, laugh-out-loud funny and deeply touching, this book will resonate long after you finish it. A triumph (SJ Watson, author of Before I Go to Sleep)

Out of poverty, brutality and prejudice, Damian Barr builds something riveting, touching and painfully funny. His account of growing up under Thatcher's regime defines the experience of a generation. At once personal and universal, Maggie & Me is a work of stealthy genius (Maggie O'Farrell)

A marvellous memoir - wrenching, funny and wise. I loved it! (Joanne Harris)

This amazing book tells the story of an appalling childhood with truth and clarity unsmudged by self-pity. It grips from beginning to end and leaves the reader elated at the fact that such experiences can be overcome and produce a man who can write a book so vivid, so unsentimentally forgiving, and so memorable (Diana Athill)

This book will break your heart and make you angry; then it will lift your heart and make you glad; because Damian Barr has transmuted a grim childhood into a work of art and brought forth beauty from ashes (Richard Holloway)

That Damian Barr survived his childhood is testament to his startling courage and determination.That he was then able to write about the experience with such wit, verve and candour is equally astonishing. Maggie & Me is a cause for celebration on all kinds of levels. Rejoice! (Rupert Thomson)

Damian Barr sifts through the wreckage of a horrific childhood and manages to extract humour, generosity of spirit and ultimately joy, and he does it with a literary élan that had me re-reading whole paragraphs, just for the pleasure of it.

To say I loved it doesn't begin to convey the mixture of emotions - tears, laughter, anger - I felt while reading it. This book should be required reading for children who need to know that there is life beyond an appalling beginning, and for politicians who prefer to look the other way

(Jojo Moyes author of Me Before You)

Like all too few memoirs, in a bloated, me-me age, Maggie & Me ends all too soon. Imagine one of the sharper Mitford sisters cruelly reborn into the family from Shameless and you've an idea of the treat in store. Barr tells his engaging, sad-funny story of a camp, bright lad in dire circumstances in Thatcher-era Motherwell in such a beguilingly confiding, arm-linking style, that I felt I'd made a new best friend only to lose them to a world of glittering opportunities. Read this at once before someone films it, as they most surely will (Patrick Gale)

This is the most vital, visceral memoir since Jeanette Winterson's Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal? . Barr's depiction is so pungent, so earth-shattering it's a universal story of alienation - one for anyone who's ever felt desperate to escape. His childhood, evoked with such cheek-biting tenderness, now seems more real and more Technicolor than my own. I won't be happy until everyone reads this book (Patrick Strudwick)

Timely confessional - zestfully observed, sharply written, and sprinkled with more lyricism and humour than a memoir of misery in Motherwell suggests (Boyd Tonkin Independent)

Maggie & Me is a perfect chip supper of a memoir: nostalgic, tart, crisp and seductive. It's also sad, kind, witty, and sexy. And alarmingly educational (Louisa Young)

Brilliantly observed, searingly intimate and painfully truthful, Maggie & Me brought the eighties back to me at the same time as making me question my established views of the whole decade. In other words, like the very best books, it changed me a little (Sathnam Sanghera author of The Boy with the Topknot)

'A nuanced, subtle and original account ... What could have been a flip idea with no real substance turns out to be a memoir which is both personally moving and a valuable historical document. Barr's style is conversational, intimate and convincing, and he resists every opportunity to show off. He holds his nerve tackling the unfashionableness of his thesis - that Thatcher inspired even those she seemed to despise - and makes us smile along the way (Christena Appleyard Literary Review)

Certain memoirs catch a moment and seem to define it, bottle it ... Damian Barr, I suspect, is about to do something of the same with this hugely entertaining book ... Full to the brim with poignancy, humour, brutality and energetic and sometimes shimmering prose, the book confounds one's assumptions about those years and drenches the whole era in an emotionally charged comic grandeur. It is hugely affecting (Andrew Holgate Sunday Times)

Beyond his Maggie cult, this memoir can boast a humour, bravery and brio that cross all party lines ( Independent )

Certain memoirs catch a moment and seem to define it, bottle it ... Damian Barr, I suspect, is about to do something of the same with this hugely entertaining book ... Published with outrageous good timing ... Full to the brim with poignancy, humour, brutality and energetic and sometimes shimmering prose, the book confounds one's assumptions about those years and drenches the whole era in an emotionally charged comic grandeur. It is hugely affecting (Andrew Holgate Sunday Times)

This memoir of deprivation and survival is shrewdly constructed and written with a winning dry humour (Adam Mars-Jones Guardian)

A brilliant, laugh-out-loud and profoundly moving Eighties memoir (GQ)

An inspiring read (Marie Claire)

By turns funny, tender, and heartbreaking, it is also a useful primer for anyone too young to remember what life was like in the industrial areas of Britain enduring the changes wrought by Thatcherism... A gifted storyteller, weaving skilfully back and forth through time, and his unfussy prose flows delightfully... Splendid (Independent on Sunday)

Hugely affecting memoir (Sunday Times)

Unlike most volumes of this kind, Maggie & Me is short on jokes and long on raw, pungent atmosphere. Barr has a keen eye for wincingly evocative detail... Expressed with a kind of grim lyricism (New Statesman)

A touching and darkly humorous memoir... Topical and heartfelt (TNT Magazine)

Witty, gritty and inspiring (Glamour)

Maggie and Me by Damian Barr has a startling new take on the former PM (Mark Smith Herald)

Comi-tragic memoir (Evening Standard)

A refreshing, affecting and ultimately triumphant account (Ben Felsenburg Metro)

A real storyline, touching and personal, and I found myself laughing (Mail on Sunday)

[A] talented writer ... Barr captures very well how it is possible to learn and to love even in the most unpropitious environment. His book is the better for the strange loyalty it shows to the place he fled (Daily Telegraph)

I was dazzled by the energy and verve of Damian Barr's memoir, Maggie & Me ... I've been shoving copies into people's hands all year (Johanna Thomas-Corr Evening Standard Books of the Year )

Damian Barr's wonderful memoir Maggie & Me . was the coming-of-age story of this year (Louise Doughty Observer Books of the Year)

Written with beautiful clarity and no self-pity - I look forward to seeing what he does next (Stephanie Merritt Observer Books of the Year)

Damian Barr's Maggie & Me is easily my favourite book of 2013 ... There isn't a trace of bitterness in the beautiful book. Only the radiant eloquence of a man whose courage and humanity shine from its pages (Alan Johnson New Statesman Books of the Year )

Charming, life-enhancing (Melanie Reid The Times Books of the Year)

Barr's moving, funny, inspiring memoir of growing up gay in Motherwell is a virtuoso piece of autobiography that paints a vivid portrait of our country's recent past (Patricia Nicol Metro Non-fiction Books of the Year)

The surprisingly funny and positive story of growing up gay in a working-class town in Thatcher's Britain. It's worth the cover price for the Dirty Dancing scene alone (Katy Guest Independent on Sunday Books of the Year)

Book Description

A unique, tender and witty memoir of surviving the tough streets of small town Scotland during the Margaret Thatcher years

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By P. Raybould on 11 July 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is fantastic. It's a great account of success against all odds.
The link to Maggie was slightly tenuous so if you're not a Maggie fan then do not let that put you off.
In this book the author created an incredibly engaging and authentic child's voice that was both funny and sad in equal measure. At the end of the book it left me with a lovely warm feeling and not wanting it to end.
The cultural references were perfect and I was very able to relate to them, which gave an extra edge of nostalgia.
I have recommended this book to lots of my friends and have purchased copies as gifts as well. I highly recommend it as a great read!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jo Hearne on 30 May 2013
Format: Hardcover
An inspiring book in so many ways; it is truly remarkable how the author can write about such appalling and difficult childhood memories with so much detail, wit, humour and courage. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend to anyone. It really did stir so many different emotions in me.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By altosur on 13 May 2013
Format: Hardcover
Maggie and Me is a beautifully written memoir by an amazing and very brave man. Clearly destined to become a classic, it is one of the best books I have ever read.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By JayneS on 1 Jun 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Coming from Lanarkshire I knew the places that the writer was referring to and I could empathise with the writer and thought it was a well written thought provoking book
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Thor Odinson on 19 April 2013
Format: Hardcover
I had very clear idea of what I thought this book was going to be about. I was wrong and I am glad for it.

The book I imagined was a sharp, witty and biting book about life in Scotland under Thatcher and, this at least, covers the bare bones of the story. But if you expect a book bristling with contempt and anger, then this is not it. Nor is it the books about books I anticipated. Instead, it is a book about surviving and coming to terms to the people around you.

As Barr makes brutally and painfully clear, he was abused as a boy and all but abandoned as a teenager. Brought up in a working class town close to Glasgow, with strong Catholic roots he was educated in a largely Protestant school where he was seen as different. As a very young boy, his parents separated and his step-father became abusive. His mother, having suffered a brain aneurysm, got him away from her abusive partner but, challenged by her new life, turned to drink leaving Damian and his younger sister to their own devices. While all this was going on at home, Damian struggled to come to terms with being gay. This was the era of Clause 28 when such things were excluded from the curriculum under the ludicrous belief that taking about homosexuality openly would create generations of gay men and women.

But this is not a book about abuse. Nor is it a book about being gay either. It is a book about inspiration and triumph. Maggie haunts the narrative not as a chilling spectre but, rather, she is like Marley's ghost, offering an alternative and hopeful vision to a troubled individual who, otherwise, could end up on a scrap heap. She is not treated uncritically but nor is she the target of vitriol. It was an entirely different take on the 80s and very refreshing because of that.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mr. John Scott/ Mrs. Janice Scott on 4 Jun 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I absolutely loved this book a bit harrowing in places but a great read. Damien Barr has a really easy writing style and I found it difficult to put the book down
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Anon on 27 May 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Heart breaking, hilariously funny and a completely inspiring story. Couldn't put this book down and I now look at Newarthill and Carfin through different eyes.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By david lawley on 14 April 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am not a well read person whatsoever and do not pretend to have an array of books in my 'have read' shelf but this book was recommended to me by a friend and I'm so glad it was. It was very well written by the author who captured the total innocence of a scottish childhood perfectly and also the ignorance of adolescence whilst enduring a less than perfect upbringing. This book made me laugh several times, infact, the author probably touched and evoked every emotion in me; anger, sympathy, humour, pride, empathy and sadness to name only some .At one point I was literally in tears. In some ways, it was a totally relatable story for me as, at times, it felt like I was reading my own life in words. All in all, this book captured my heart and mind from start to finish with vivid descriptive characters making you fall in love with and loathe separately. It was a truly captivating story set to the backdrop of the Margaret Thatcher years. All I want to say is thank you to the author for putting his story down in words as it couldn't have been easy. A pleasure to read.
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