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That Close [Hardcover]

4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)
RRP: 20.00
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Book Description

24 Oct 2013

Suggs is one of pop music's most enduring and likeable figures. Written with the assured style and wit of a natural raconteur, this hugely entertaining and insightful autobiography takes you from his colourful early life on a North London council estate, through the heady early days of Punk and 2-Tone, to the eighties, where Madness became the biggest selling singles band of the decade. Along the way he tells you what it's like to grow up in sixties Soho, go globetrotting with your best mates, to make a dead pigeon fly and cause an earthquake in Finsbury Park.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Quercus (24 Oct 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 085738953X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857389534
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 19,124 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Suggs is a singer, songwriter, DJ, actor and TV presenter. He is perhaps best known as lead singer with Madness, who have had 24 top-twenty hits and continue to tour. Suggs lives in Camden, London.

Product Description


'Brilliantly nutty ... gloriously irreverent' Mail on Sunday.

'Beautifully recreates the memories of his early years' Daily Express.

'Wonderfully evocative' Scotsman.

'His early life would make a novel in itself' Ian Rankin.

'Really well written. Gripping' James Brown.

From the Inside Flap

A lawless brat, from a council flat, A little bit of this, and a little bit of that - Oh, Oh. Aerosol, the bricks.* A pigeon that was flying better dead than when it was alive, A second-hand suit and Dr. Martens boot, Punk, 2 Tone, infinity and (one step) beyond. A life lived, given and taken. No questions asked. We were that close, it was scary, We were that close, to getting it right, Or crashing and burning. When time wasn't of the essence, When time didn't mean money, When time was an irrelevance. Remember them summer days, When we took whatever came our way, And got away, hey, but not too far, Took a spin round in your broken-down car. From the back streets of North London to Buckingham Palace, and everything in-between. The story of... SUGGS. *With a nod to Ian Dury.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing - not enough Madness 24 Nov 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Disappointing. Madness were the first band I ever saw live, and The Prince still has to be the most infectious dance track ever. But there just isn't enough of Madness in Suggs' book. It's as if he's trying so hard to be someone other than the singer from Madness, that his motives obscure his own (and the band's) true legacy. Want stories about the creation of One Step Beyond? Or how and why the song Michael Caine evolved and how they got the man himself onto the record? Or how they matured into some of the finest songwriters around? No chance. Want to know how Suggs makes bruschetta, or enjoys cycling in southern Italy? Then you're in business.

He's a third of the way into the book before Madness even emerge as a band. You're wondering how he's going maintain that detail throughout Madness' career. Simple; he doesn't. A few chapters later, they're splitting up. No mention of the six albums recorded in between. He goes into excruciating detail about a New Year's Eve, but doesn't mention recording Absolutely, 7, the Rise and Fall etc. The sequencing jumps around a lot and while I'm sure there's something to be said about avoiding a straight, chronological narrative, it sill leaves you feeling a little short-changed.

What is written is good however; very entertaining. There's a real warmth and honesty to his tales, and he's a good narrator/raconteur. I'd imagine his one man stage shows are a gem.

So, caveat emptor. Be aware that you are getting a well written and entertaining autobiography. You are not getting a book about Madness.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Madness fans: THIS BOOK ISN'T ABOUT MADNESS. There are a few interesting revelations, but it's about "What made Graham MacPherson into Suggs". Just thought I'd start there, as it seems to be a constant complaint in other reviews.

I've read a lot people associated with 2-Tone, and this was my favourite read, because (1) It's not ghostwritten, or not much at least, because you can tell Sugg's way of speaking coming through the words. (2) He doesn't big himself up, quite the opposite if anything. (3) No-one gets slagged. Nice, easy read, plenty of anecdotes, made for holiday reading. you may not learn much, but there are plenty of fact-heavy books for that, this is just a pleasant few hours of company with a nice guy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars It drove me. Completely bonkers. 20 Aug 2014
At the start of 'That Close...', That Nice Mr Suggs recounts an anecdote wherein he's encouraged by a publisher to write his memoirs. The catch..? A ghost-writer. He doesn't accept the offer... but some years later produces 'That Close' - all by himself.

So - top marks and full kudos for authenticity, credibility, and so on. And zero marks for everything else. Because what a (decent) ghost-writer would have done (and what That Nice Mr Suggs painfully and repeatedly fails to do...) is give some consideration to what the reader might actually want to *get* from this book. Take heed of all the other reviews that point out the very, very minimal 'Madness' content, the bizarre recounting of deeply inconsequential tales from That Nice Mr Suggs' footie wanderings, the cack-handed (ie. non-existent) attempt at imposing a narrative structure on his life... and so on... and so on... and so on.

Also note - if you're a pedant, like me - that there appears to have been virtually no proof-reading of his manuscript at all... let alone any editorial input. There are typos, grammatical errors, events mentioned in the wrong order and the most migraine-inducing failure to compose thoughts into sentences.

Meaning that you get something like this: "That Nice Mr Suggs is clearly a thoroughly nice. And decent man. As you can tell from his book. Which he wrote himself. However, there are some problems. Including the fact that he writes prose like he's writing a song. In little, miniature clauses. That don't really connect. Up with. Each. Other..."

Drove me completely bonkers... or as That Nice Mr Suggs might say: "It drove me. Completely bonkers." And - hey presto! - there's the title for my review written...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One or two steps not far enough 24 Aug 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Structurally, this is a strange book. It starts as a conventional autobiography, then loses its chronological thread to become a memoir, and ends-up as a sort of collagey scrap-book of essays about family, friends and holidays. So quite off-beat, a bit like Suggs himself, who goes out of his way to avoid revealing too much about the true dynamics of Madness and its various members. I'm sure this would have been a very different book if it had been written in Madness's wilderness years (1987 to 1992), when perhaps some of the inevitable tensions in a seven man band would have been revealed, but instead it's been written in the golden glow of the Madness revival, when Suggs can't afford to offend his fellow band members as they all make the most of our nostalgia for the nutty boys, and Suggs himself has become a national institution. National institutions, of course, rely on maintaining the status quo, but I may be straying into one of Suggs's anecdotes about Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi's stage gear being the same as their street gear. And that's about as revealing as this book gets.
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