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54
4.2 out of 5 stars
Strangeland
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 3 April 2010
Being a big fan of Tracey Emin's work, I'm surprised it took me so long to buy a copy of this book. I was very intrigued to learn more about the woman behind the headlines and all the speculation in the media. Tracey comes across as a very soulful, troubled individual whose life has been a rollercoaster of incredible highs and crushing lows.

Motherland is the first part of the book and covers her youth in Margate, Fatherland covers her travels to Turkey and relationship with her father and Traceyland (the most interesting part) is about the adult Tracey's experiences in London and New York, living wildly, dealing with pregnancy and abortion and still managing to see life as a beautiful adventure despite the turmoil she's been through.

She strikes me as someone I'd love to know in real life; relatable, funny, warm and honest. The book is disappointingly short, I'd have liked more from the 3rd part purely because she's so interesting that you don't want to stop hearing about her experiences.

I'd recommend this book to all young women, especially (she gives great advice on dealing with unwanted pregnancies) as she emerges as a successful and wise woman even though she has been mistreated by men on many occasions. Tracey's not a man-hater, by any stretch, she falls in love frequently and deeply and talks of how she sometimes really enjoys sex. It's just that this book is a very female account of life.
You won't regret the time you spent reading it, though you're likely to whizz through it as it's so un-put-down-able.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
I guess, whether you like a biography or not, has much to do with your sympathy (or antipathy) for the person in question. That said, I didn't know much about Tracey Emin before reading this, apart from her appearances in life-style magazines etc. But - as expected - she's a very sympathetic and interesting person - the kind you'd like to know personally. She's a gift to all of us - talented, witty, honest.
The book is different from so many bio's in that it is not boringly long, but rather short and concise - still, Tracey gets around so many different aspects of her life. You really don't feel she's hiding anything from you - but despite her openness, it's still easy to respect her! :-)

Read it!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 21 February 2008
A superb autobiography from one of the U.K's top contemporary artists. In particular,it is a book would particularly appeal to female artists as it looks at the psyche behind Tracey's life and work. It handles serious topics that Emin has been affected by, such as rape and abortion, which would strike a chord with female readers. Emin is actually a very good story teller. Her style of writing is easy to read, intelligent and well written (unlike a lot of autobiographies). She is incredibly open and intimate in her candid account of her life. Absolutely loved it.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on 24 March 2006
I am still reeling from TE's book.
She and I are the same age and her description of the Margate of her youth could have been my town in the same era - music, boys, underage sex and drinking. Also, as a mother of boy/girl twins, I understand the way she describes her relationship with Paul which is at once accurate and shocking in its frankness.
Although in places her writing was erratic and confusing; this is acceptable when put in context - the book is a collection of writing she has laid down through the years. That aside, there are passages containing descriptive prose that is both poigniant and beautiful. Let's face it, would anyone expect a book by Tracey Emin to be a 'comfortable' bedtime read? She is honest, open, and tells it how it was/is.
It is a great insight into the life of a very talented lady with experiences that most of us couldn't begin to imagine. An inspired, artistic mind driven to the edge by its creativity.
God preserve Ms Emin and thanks for an uncomfortable, thought-provoking read!
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on 10 November 2005
I enjoyed Tracey Emin's Strangeland. It had the best advice on how to make a fishfinger sandwich and the practicalities of preventing an unwanted pregnancy that I have read. Her description of loneliness and how lonely people always look at the sky struck a chord with me. In fact she describes the sky in many of the extracts which her book is made up of. I think most visual people are fixated by the sky. Her description of her behaviour before her period arrives was comical, it was so true to life. I think may women go through similar bizarre behaviour patterns and look back three days later and think was that me?
She doesn't write about her art but I suspect this is the background to a future novel about her art which she is not yet prepared to write. Perhaps she is superstitious about this and doesn't want to lose her touch. I look forward to it when she writes it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 29 January 2011
I bought this having had a sudden interest in learning more about the chameleon that is Tracey Emin. Just like the author this book manages to weave in and out of vulnerability, strength where some would show none, intense passion and numbness. Emin's attraction for me has always been her honesty, she lays bare every part of her experiences and shows the bad proudly along side the good. "Strangeland" captures the essence of Emin and is everything you would expect of an artist who creates controversy and erupts debates wherever she goes. I wouldn't go far off saying this is Emin's best piece of art yet.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 18 November 2014
I can never make up my mind what I think about Tracey Emin. I find her political views (at least as conveyed by the media) tiresome (particularly her objection to paying higher rate tax),and her gloating over her wealth (as in the photograph with her stuffing money up her dress) and the 'party girl' image that she has cultivated (originally drug and booze-filled parties with Young British Artists, more recently glamorous events with friends such as gossipy celebrity journalist Lynn Barber and right-wing actress Joan Collins (sorry Joan Collins fans, I find her extremely tedious) manufactured and rather monotonous. The idea of oneself as art is a questionable one, and I have to say also that some of the art leaves me cold - I've never been particularly drawn to 'My Bed', I don't 'get' the neon lit up slogans and find the drawings and paintings quite a mixed bag (particularly the skimpily drawn faces on a lot of her figures). This being said, I think some of the fabric work is very striking, I found her 'CV' video at Tate Modern mesmerising and beautiful - and some of her other video work too - and have always liked some of her photographs. Some of the drawings, particularly of animals, are also rather lovely. And I've always been struck by some of her very likeable qualities in interview - her love of cats, her interest in books, her loyalty to her family and her ability to tell a good story. So I was intrigued to read what she had to say about herself in this book.

As with my attitude to Emin's art, I found the book quite a mixed bag. It's divided into three sections: 'Motherland', about her early relationship with her mother and her childhood and teenage years in Margate, 'Fatherland', about her travels to Cyprus and Turkey to spend time with her Turkish-Cypriot Dad, and 'Traceyland', about her difficult years in London and gradual rise to fame, culminating in her getting on the Turner Prize shortlist (which led her to the international status she still enjoys today). The first two sections are much stronger than the third. The trouble with 'Traceyland' is that (apart from some very painful but superbly written descriptions of her horrible experiences of abortion, and some useful warnings to young girls about bullying men) Emin doesn't seem to have all that much to say. The odd superb bit of writing - the description of seeing her dead grandmother, a witty re-creation of a trip to Egypt, a description of looking at Munch's 'The Scream' - stands out against a background of rather dreary and self-pitying writing about Emin's sexual frustration, inability to clean up her flat and repetitive descriptions of drunken parties and the disgusting food she used to eat to line her stomach. I'd have liked to have learnt much more about Emin the artist, and how she came to become the sort of artist that she is, and about her relationship with family and friends in later life, and found this section rather flat and depressing. However, my experiences with the first two sections of the book were very different. 'Motherland' is a very vivid re-creation of a dysfunctional childhood and adolescence, and shows that Emin is an amazingly strong woman: she was raped at 13, became wildly promiscuous at 14, never seems to have got proper food and had a skimpy education, and yet she got herself to art college, maintained a good relationship with her mother and didn't let the past drag her down. There's also some wonderful vignettes of Emin's life: her love of dancing (she was good enough to get a place at The Place in London), a Dickensian scene in which she and her mother, down to their last pennies, pawn a gold necklace, her confused feelings about her mother's Austrian lover, descriptions of the sea front at Margate. Even better - if a little confusing in terms of chronology - were Emin's descriptions of her time spent in Turkey and Cyprus with her father, particularly the lovely, painterly descriptions of landscape (has Emin ever tried to paint these landscapes as well as write about them?), her memories of her rakish father's stories, and her strange summer affair with a Turkish fisherman. Sections such as 'The House of the Poet Mehdava' made me think that Emin could be a fantastic novelist or short story writer if she wanted.

The one thing I would say is that the book left me wanting to know a lot more about Emin's life than was provided. I was full of questions by the end: Did Emin's father walk out of her life totally during her childhood, or did he remain a constant presence? How did she get on with his family? What made her decide to try for fashion college and then art school? What happened to her Mum after her best friend died? Is Emin still close to her best friend Maria? How did her art evolve, and what made her commit the 'psychological suicide' that she underwent in 1992? How did she feel when she began to garner international attention? A lot of these questions, I guess, can be answered by reading interviews with Emin, but I would have liked to know more from this book. But then, I suppose it was purposely constructed as a series of vignettes rather than a full autobiography.

A patchy book - and it's a shame that the last section became so repetitive until the final could of chapters - but at its best a beautiful and beautifully written one. It's definitely made me warm to Tracey Emin more, and want to find out more about her.
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Someone described this book as not being about Tracey Emin's art. But surely that is what it is? Much of her art is raw, personal and confessional. It takes the uncomfortable details of her life and makes them public property. This is exactly what this book does. It is a series of short extracts about her life and relationships. It is unflinchingly honest, raw and at times brutal. She lays bare her life, her thoughts, her obsessions for everyone to see. It is not a comfortable read, but you would expect nothing less.
At times this is messy and confused, at others limpid and soaring prose. It is surprisingly beautiful and eloquent in a way I didn't expect. I enjoyed it. I was sad it was so short.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 6 May 2012
This book is just great! I was a bit dubious about it as I haven't always been a fan of Emin's work. Even if you're not, this book is a brutal, heart wrenching yet ever so endearing read. Buy. Read. Share.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 11 June 2009
This book is a very interesting read and although at times disturbing its gives you an insight into the mind Tracy Emin. A great book if you want to know more about her and why she is the way she is.
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