13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars
Strong contender for 'Worst Biography' award ..., 8 May 2009
This is an extraordinary book! Not only could it qualify as the worst biography ever written but would also be a very strong contender for the worst book I've ever read.
With sliding tenses, dangling modifiers, poorly juxtaposed narrative elements, non-sequiturs, poor attribution of quotes and anecdotal references that confuse more frequently than they illuminate, it reads more like a modest undergraduate essay on Social History than a professional biography. As such it is likely to infuriate and disappoint fans of biography and Pat Roach in equal measure.
With tortured syntax and punctuation errors populating every page (including an, abundance of, commas in odd, places) the determined reader must be prepared to cast back and forth through the cliché-ridden and leaden prose to try and divine narrative meaning, sense and purpose.
In this regard, one of my favourite paragraphs is:
'Dolly recalls that Frank could be very cruel at times. "If I didn't
get the sharp cheese, I'd get a back-hander. But I won the day. He
was going to kill me. I won my child and he'd got to pay me 15/- a
week, which was a hell of a lot of money, because it was £2. 10s.
I've read it dozens of times and I am unable to make any sense of it despite having a thorough understanding of British pre-decimal currency .
The text - blithely assuming you've inferred anything at all from the points thus made - then breezily continues:
'Despite such difficulties, it is clear that both father and son had
a special affection for one another. According to Dolly, although he
was separated from his family, Frank 'thought the world of Pat'.'
thereby creating some momentary gender confusion via the introduction of a misplaced sub-clause. And so it continues.
This book does no justice to Pat Roach and stands as a very poor tribute to his memory for those fans who remember him with affection. Rather it represents a minor embarrassment at the tail end of his career since he clearly endorsed the text - or its authorship at least - and was apparently unable to discern the poor quality of work done of his behalf by his co-author, Shirley Thompson, who it seems was responsible for the overwhelming majority of the research, collation, narrative structure, composition and initial editing (Pat's contributions appear to have been transcribed from recorded interviews). The book appears to be written by someone overwhelmed by the material, such that the narrative path becomes informed by the material available for inclusion instead of the material being selected judiciously to illustrate a pre-planned narrative.
This is the rarest of things - a book so bad that one cannot quite believe how bad it is, nor that it found its way into print in its present format, nor that any publishing house was prepared to let it represent its imprint without thorough editing and revision. Those who understand the temptation to waggle a bad tooth will understand why owners of this tome will be revisiting it occasionally, glancing through it in amazement tinged with regret. Pat Roach deserved a lot better than this but that's not stating the case clearly enough. Pol Pot would deserve better than this!