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The Smoking Diaries Paperback – 7 Mar 2005


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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books; New edition edition (7 Mar 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1862077231
  • ISBN-13: 978-1862077232
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.8 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,259,042 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

'Mordantly funny and utterly involving account...full of wry humour, his diaries are addictive, comforting reading' -- Sunday Times - Paperback of the Week

'Splendidly universal...with a continuous tone of disgruntled drollery that is hugely and consistently entertaining' -- Guardian - Nicholas Lezard's Paperback Choice,

'This self- effacing ramble secures Grey’s position as one of the great comic writers in English today.’ -- The Irish Times

Gray’s ranting, moaning and complaining is a highly polished comic performance -- Daily Express

Swarming with black comedy and frank opinions, this is a tribute to the forces that shape us -- The Good Book Guide

‘A ragbag of stories and reminiscences, it must be one of the funniest books I’ve ever read’ -- Philip Hensher, Spectator Books of the Year

‘A tender tirade, hilarious, touching and wonderfully written’ -- Barry Humphries, Sunday Telegraph Books of the Year

‘The funniest book I read this year... cunningly presented as meandering late-night jottings, but in fact scrupulously written’ -- Julian Barnes, Guardian Books of the Year

‘The latest volume of diaries from the playwright Simon Gray confirms his reputation as the Eeyore of modern English letters' -- The Mail on Sunday

Book Description

Published to coincide with the release of the third and final volume in Simon Gray's magnificent and blackly funny diaries. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 51 people found the following review helpful By A Common Reader TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 15 July 2004
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed this book immensely and am rather bemused by the earlier reviews it has received here. The playright Simon Gray begins his diaries in his mid-sixties looking at the world around him and also back to his childhood. This is a hugely funny book, but also full of insight and honesty. Simon Gray has no illusions about himself and does not try to present a sanitised version of himself. He is frank about his faults and weaknesses and it is this that makes the book so special - it is refreshing to read a diary to which the air-brush has not been applied.
Although Simon Gray is deeply involved in the theatre of course, this is not the main theme of the book, as it concentrates more on his daily life and key events from his youth. Despite this, there are some moving accounts of his meetings with his close friend Harold Pinter during the latter's experience of suffering from cancer. Once I started this book I finished it within 24 hours - a rare event these days when few books seem to inspire me.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 5 Mar 2005
Format: Hardcover
If you have read Simon Gray's other volumes of diaries you will find this is a fitting addition to your collection. Gray's self-lacerating wit is still very much in evidence and despite his documented physical decay he avoids self-pity as he invites the reader into his world of cigarettes, writing and dining.
I first read Gray's volume 'An Unatural Pursuit' and was immediately hooked by his penetrating observations of his fading professional fortunes. Whether or not you like the world of theatre is irrelavent for the enjoyment of this volume. The candid observations of this brilliant and witty man in physical and carreer decline are wonmderful.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Straightforward TOP 500 REVIEWER on 7 Jun 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is the ideal way to get to know Simon Gray - there is no fixed pattern to his musings here; he writes at quiet moments of the day, or whilst on holiday, or after getting back from evenings out with his wife. It's also very funny, in a gently ascerbic way.

These are the diaries of a relatively content man - although he doesn't have anywhere near as much money as he once had, because of the Lloyd's crash - and he's very at ease with translating his thoughts onto paper. He says at one point that he doesn't go back and edit things - once they're written, they're in.

He comes across as a typical product of 1940s-50s private school to me (certainly his erudite language and straight-speaking attitude, combined with his chainsmoking and problem drinking - although when he wrote this he had given alcohol up in favour of diet coke, poor chap); he reminds me so much of friends of that age - most of them tremendously non-pc (thank God), very entertaining and good-minded company.

It gives an insight into a lot of his plays too - many details of which are certainly autobiographical. If you're an actor looking to get a slightly different perspective on a character, there's so much in here that could inspire. The descriptions of his meals with close friend Harold Pinter are quite moving - especially when Pinter reveals that he has cancer - but as always, it is related with full disclosure in a relaxed way that never goes OTT on the emotions, although it's plain how affected heis by it all.

I never really enjoyed Simon Gray's plays, but this is such an enjoyable book to just sit back with and enjoy. It's a great holiday read if you don't fancy going for one of the usual blockbusters. One gets the feeling that there won't ever be a happy ending, but this is the first of a series of three, so things don't get too bad.

I ended up feeling very fond of the old curmudgeon :)
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Ian Shine VINE VOICE on 25 Aug 2008
Format: Paperback
I picked this book up with anticipation, having read an extract of it that I thoroughly enjoyed. I expected more of the same laughs and bitter resentments, but was somewhat confounded by the full diaries. The books is more centred around Gray's plumbing of the depths of his past, heaping mockery upon himself, expressing disgust at the man he has become, and thinking about what his 15-year-old self would have thought of his 65-year-old self. The closing 40 pages are a particularly ponderous and heartfelt affair, and for my money the best part of the book.
Gray's musings on growing old, on the changes he has seen in society and youth during his time on earth, are all written down in thoroughly digestable text, rolling on in a way that is practically unputdownable. His death marks a tragic loss.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Lis on 1 Aug 2005
Format: Paperback
The blurb on the cover of this book says something along the lines of "the funniest book I've ever read". I certainly wouldn't go that far, but after a slow start, this book gets the better of you. Dry wit in generous helpings, accompanied with some more personal, intimate truths. By the time you finish it, you'll be surprised to find you were enjoying it it more than you thought you were.
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By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 18 Sep 2009
Format: Paperback
Funny, wry, witty and moving, this memoir of Simon Gray, a playwright and novelist, published when he was 85, is a delight. Gray writes with none of the usual calm and measured life-story gravitas. He is concerned with the here and now more than his career in the theatre, and along with that his distant memories of childhood and adolescence. He writes and rambles as he likes and is devastatingly funny about his own aged failings, making a feature of forgetfulness, almost as if it is an attribute, as indeed, in his case, it is. He is stylishly digressive, never less than entertaining, and honest - painfully so at times.

His diary begins on the morning of his sixty-sixth year, reflecting on a life filled with cigarettes, alchohol and disaster. His money has disappeared by means of some rather shady tax, accountancy and investment accidents, but he and his wife Victoria still manage Barbados and Italy - quite how is kept from his readers in a teasing way. In spite of claiming to be a "nasty" person, you can see clearly that he isn't. His obvious affection for his wife, and for his pets, the dog George (female) and the two cats Tom and Errol (also female) testifies to his charm, dignity and loveableness though it may be the loveableness of a bit of a rogue, one is effortlessly captivated. This unrelentingly entertaining and amusing diary kept me reading avidly, attentively, throughout, and mostly with a smile on my face.
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