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3.8 out of 5 stars17
3.8 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 7 October 2010
I laughed out loud on every page, from Barack Obama ('Michelle asks, do I want the milk? And to that I say this. Our milk will come. Our milk will flow, and it will flow true. Our milk will flow smooth, and it will flow well-chilled. But our milk will not flow if it is not poured. But let me promise you this, Michelle ...') to Tony Benn ('I have two tape recorders, one newer and more capable, the other older and more experienced. For security reasons I never leave them in a room together ...') to HRH the Prince of Wales ('They tell me that in some shops they have started selling loaves of bread that are what they call "ready-and-sliced". I fervently hope this is one trend that doesn't "catch on". And is there really any need for this new-fangled idea of soup in tins? Broth tastes much better bubbling away in a great big open pot, stirred by a chef who really knows his stuff ...')

Each parody is a jewel. Craig Brown detects absurdity, pomposity, verbosity like a moth detects pheromones. He's a genius. He not only mimics beautifully but also actually gets to the centre of the people he parodies. From Jeremy Clarkson to Gore Vidal to Madonna to Isaiah Berlin and hundreds of others he is perfect every time.

It's a big, fat book - 404 pages - so is good value. Nicely produced, with a clever cover. Would make an excellent present.
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on 14 December 2010
Have followed Craig Brown in Private Eye for a while. This is a big read and unless you know who the pseudo-diarists are it tends to be a collection of very good nuggets rather than a sustained laugh (though not all entries are intended to be "funny"). Brown has a fantastically good "ear" for the style and tone of his subjects - including the Queen, his monarch. A great book for dipping into. I had to read it against the clock for a book group, which is not the best way to approach it.The structure around real dates/events during the year is a clever device. Recommended.
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on 26 November 2010
This book is the type one dips into from time to time. Every page is worth it. Craig Brown has a great ear for the pretentious.
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on 7 December 2010
Quite the funniest book I've read in years, The Lost Diaries is a superb collection of "diary" entries" by famous people from all walks of life as envisaged by Craig Brown ace reviewer,satirst and private eye contributor.

Genuinely laugh out loud entries come thick and fast and armed with only a superficial understanding of such characters as Cormac McCarthy,Max Hastings,Heather Mills McCartney,Roy Strong and Harold Pinter Brown seems to me to capture their public voice with unerring accuracy.

Particular favourites are Keith Richards,Hugo Vickers(the Queen Mother stuff is uproarious),Barack Obama and Germaine Greer.

For devotees of humourous prose,a must have.
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on 16 September 2012
I was dismayed to read the following comment in a one-star review of this book:
"Clearly I have missed the whole point of the book but not being a member of the N London Media Lit brigade, it went over my head."

However, having now read the book, I can appreciate what the reviewer meant. There are simply too many names that will only be identifiable to a certain kind of reader. A great deal of the subjects in this book were people I had never heard of - and I doubt Joe Public would know of. This is where Google came in handy, as I had no idea who W.G. Sebald was. Or Roy Jenkins, Sir Nicholas Henderson, VS Naipaul, George Steiner, Annabel Goldsmith and Lord Runciman.

The trouble is that to be familiar with everyone in this book, you'd need to read every newspaper avidly on a daily basis. And most people are only familiar with their own sphere: therefore those who know what Katie Price writes like will not really appreciate the Thomas Hardy parody. Even once I'd looked up who certain people were, that still didn't inform me what their writing style was.

The best advice for reading this book is not to try it from start to finish. Just dip in and out, and only read entries by those you are familiar with; or try one entry by someone you are unfamiliar with. And if you don't find it amusing, ignore the rest for that person. I found this worked for me, especially as the joke is milked dry in many cases: Martin Amis and Christopher Hitchens to name but two. The Richard E Grant parody becomes incredibly tiresome the third or fourth time.

All this said, when Brown gets it right, he is side-splittingly funny. I suppose we all have our favourites, and for me, he is a genius when parodying the upper classes. I'd never read Clarissa Eden's work before, but now I don't need to. The Mitford ones (Deborah Devonshire and Diana Mosley) are bang on; when someone has defended Hitler as briskly as these two ladies have, they set themselves up for satirising. The John Gielgud entries had me chuckling very loudly - alas, I fear the original letters he parodies aren't nearly as funny! His letter complaining about the Second World War is perfect. Brown also works wonders with that curious breed: the Royal Biographer. The sycophancy of Messrs. Brandreth, Shawcross and Vickers is spot-on.

And when people like Germaine Greer, Yoko Ono or Lady Antonia Fraser take themselves as seriously as they do, Craig Brown's work is absolutely vital. His satire is the perfect antidote to pomposity and pretentiousness.

However, the book I would really like to buy is the collected Diaries from Private Eye; it is a tragedy that some of these are simply consigned to history once the next issue comes out. But, alas, I don't know if I will ever read his brilliant parodies of Joan Collins, Margaret Rhodes or Yasmin Alibhai-Brown ever again. Publishers, take note!
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on 5 January 2011
This book is unlike any other I have. The "diaries" are "written" by a variety of and dead, British, American, and other nationalities, politicians, royals, and celebrities and even a few friends of mine. The "editor" is particularly wicked with Sarah, the Duchess of York, Heather Mills McCartney,and Yoko Ono. Barack Obama's bits are hilarious as he can't do anything without a dissertation that makes no sense whatsoever to his wife or audience. Because this is comprised of excerpts, has no plot, but does have an index, it can be read in spurts or any way you want. It is ideal for a guest bedroom, or for someone bedridden who can't read for very long. My copy is going to a cousin who is undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, tires easily, but still has a wicked sense of humor.. Be sure to read the flyleaves, the "editor's" biography in the back, the list of his other books in the front, and the introduction...all of these will give you a taste of what's to come.
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on 7 November 2011
After you get the hang of this gloriously clever, very witty, and - at times - hilarious book, you get the added fun of opening the book at random, reading an entry, and trying to guess the "author" before you get to the end.

"Mohammed Fayad" on his visit to Henley has reduced me to an utter weak, helpless, shaking, "weeping-with-laughter" wreck. His take on Prescott will again never allow me to think again of the phrase "one more heave" without the reference that is given here, and then there are the slightly more surgical dissections of others - Gyles Brandreth seems to cop it quite a bit, but wtf, and Heather Mills McCartney.

Strap in, enjoy the read and the ride.

What a mind!!!! When's volume Two coming out? There are so many more targets for this genius comic writer to lampoon.
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on 19 December 2011
Any Private Eye reader will know of Craig Brown's unique gift for parody.
Having his spoof diaries of the great and the good all together like this - with some extra goodies - is a real treat.
Terrific stuff!
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on 26 March 2016
Witty but quite dated now
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on 19 November 2015
craig brown = brilliant
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