on 3 October 2013
Thoroughly enjoyed this romp through the literary/theatrical world of 1960's London. I first became interested in Orton through reading Kenneth Williams' diaries and KW makes a few appearances during the book.
That said, it is not a book for the faint-hearted or easily offended. There are many (sometimes lengthy) descriptions of gay liaisons, particularly in the section based in Tangier.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book, but was well aware of its content before I bought it.
on 28 September 2015
Highly recommended! Many of the great and well-known post-war diaries (e.g. those of Alan Clark, "Chips" Channon, Harold Nicolson) who written by members of the ruling class. Too many recent diaries by politicians (e.g. Alistair Campbell, Robin Cook etc.) were obviously written with an eye on future publication and have dated very quickly. By contrast, Joe Orton's diaries were written by an exceptionally talented young writer - working class, gay - at the absolute height of his powers. His diary was written in the last eight months (January-August 1967) of his short life and is spontaneous and very funny, and at the same time that he wrote two highly successful plays, as well as revising others. The diary divides into three sections: January-May (London), June-July (Tangier) and July-August (the final days before he was murdered) and even now, more than 40 years later, the observations are still fresh. Of course, the irony is that Orton - highly intelligent and self-aware - did not see that the growing depression of his partner, Kenneth Halliwell, would lead to their deaths.
on 5 April 2016
As a piece of writing this is pretty fascinating -- the diary of playwright Joe Orton from the six months or so leading up to his murder. It's this diary that apparently goaded Orton's lover Kenneth Halliwell into bashing Orton's head in with a hammer in August, 1967, and as a reader, you see it happening, the diary packed with often amusing descriptions of Halliwell's unfolding nervous breakdown juxtiposed with Orton's growing celebrity, success, sociopathic egotism and wild sexual promiscuity. Pretty horrifying the way Orton and Halliwell behaved with underage boys on vacation in Morocco. I give that ZERO STARS. They were clearly a couple of bastards. But as a document, as a piece of writing, it is unusual, biting, funny.