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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A smart, witty collection of interviews, 4 Jan. 2000
This review is from: Demon Barber (Paperback)
Whoever wrote the synopsis for Amazon appears to have been thinking of a completely different book. This has nothing to do with Princess Diana and only tangentially connects to the royal family. Rather, it is a collection of Lynn "Demon" Barber's celebrity interviews over the 96-98 period, including (among others) Gerry Adams, Eddie Izzard, Julian Clary, Julie Burchill, Jarvis Cocker, Major Ron Ferguson, Damien Hirst, Rachel Whiteread, Lord Deedes, Lord Rees-Mogg and Harriet Harman. Barber never shies away from allowing her own opinions to be felt (particularly about Harman - ouch), which may annoy some, but will delight fans of slick, entertaining journalism.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some Women Are Funny, 4 July 2011
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This review is from: Demon Barber (Hardcover)
Christopher Hitchens recently published an article entitled 'Why Women Aren't Funny'. The proposition developed there is that, in short, Women Aren't Funny, or at least 'taken on average and as a whole' they are less funny than men. Anyone tempted by this view should read Mostly Men (1991) and Demon Barber (1998) followed by any two books of Christopher Hitchens. They would find that, whatever the merits of Hitchens, on chuckle count Lynn Barber wins by a mile.

Mostly Men and Demon Barber consist of selected interviews with famous people conducted in the eighties and nineties. Each book has about thirty interviews; they mostly appeared originally in the Independent on Sunday or Observer.

Barber has a reputation for, as she puts it, 'duffing interviewees up' (she means in the pen-is-mightier-than-the-sword sense; no physical violence is involved). But she only rarely demonizes her interviewees, and when she does, as in the case of Harriet Harman, it usually seems well deserved. What makes these interviews so enjoyable is Barber's talent for getting through the celebrity 'shell' and giving you some sense of what her interviewees are actually like.

Several features of her technique stand out. First, she realises that how the celebrity manages the logistics of the interview can be telling: do they repeatedly cancel (Jeremy Irons), forget the interview (Barry Humphries), arrive late (Joseph Heller), control the interviewer's lunch menu (Delia Smith)?

Second, she is prepared to ask questions which few would have the nerve to: are you gay? (Dale Winton), why do you always go out with bimbos? (Michael Winner), why do people think you're thick? (Harriet Harman). She even manages to raise the topic of little girls with Jimmy Saville (Barber concludes - quite rightly - that the fact that the tabloids have never come up with a shred of evidence againt Saville is as near proof of his innocence on this point as you can get). She may be a woman but no one could say she lacks cojones.

Third, there is a splendid determination to get real answers and not be fobbed off with psycho-babble. In one interview, Boy George starts saying that he is bi-sexual but that in fact 'Everyone is'. Barber cuts through this casuistry by asking whether this means his father (an Irish builder and former boxer) had been gay, provoking a sudden yelp of 'No!'.

Fourth, the homework. Before meeting the famous person she collects newspaper clippings; sees all the films; reads all the books. When one considers some of the interviewees (Jeffrey Archer, Melvyn Bragg) the scale of the sacrifice she is prepared to make for the reader becomes clear.

I nearly always found myself agreeing with the thrust of Barber's assesments, although there are exceptions. Barber's worship of Kelvin MacKenzie and his editorship of the Sun was rather hard to take (it is difficult to forget the 'Gotcha!' headline on the sinking of the Belgrano or the Sun's disgraceful reporting of Hillsborough).

Still, all in all, it's wonderfully entertaining. Since Demon Barber was published, Barber's interviews have continued to appear and hopefully Penguin will produce a selection of her more recent work before long. I'd certainly be an early customer!

Barber fans should note that her memoir An Education (2009) has been made into a film of the same name with a script by Nick Hornby. Both book and film are excellent.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fab condition, 15 Jun. 2014
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This review is from: Demon Barber (Hardcover)
What a great find. Fab condition plus it came with an intriguing inscription that has added more intrigue. The interviews are fantastic. Thank you
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compulsive reading - Barber's wonderful, 17 May 2002
This review is from: Demon Barber (Paperback)
Lynn Barber's interviews are always worth reading. I've followed her as she's moved around, from the Sunday Express to the Observer via The Independent, and, as a matter of fact, her pieces have often been the main reason for buying those papers.
The mix of people in this collection is interesting; I enjoyed reading about her being star struck over Jarvis Cocker, and her amusing account of the out-of-touch-with-reality Lord Rees Mogg.
Demon Barber is an excellent follow-up to her earlier book, Mostly Men.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 19 Feb. 2013
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This review is from: Demon Barber (Hardcover)
A fine journalist and interviewer - though a sometimes contentious one. Always readable - even years after first written. You don't have to agree with all her conclusions to enjoy.
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Demon Barber
Demon Barber by Lynn Barber (Paperback - 25 Nov. 1999)
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