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4.2 out of 5 stars
Stalin Ate My Homework
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 11 October 2010
This is not a showbiz bio. It is a memoir of a unique childhood presenting a first-hand close-up child's-eye view of the cold war and as such constitutes an important historical document. It's also (almost incidentally) very, very funny. It's also written in a transparently elegant prose style that every writer since Evelyn Waugh would do well to study. It also tells you more about the crucial flaws in Sten gun design, and the useless beauty of 1950s East European limousines than you could ever have believed you wanted to know. It's also a page turner. I read it in two lengthy sessions while the world around continued to fall into hideous disrepair. Philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it. Here's how.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 29 September 2010
Another great read from Alexi. Very enjoyable and entertaining learning about his unconventional childhood. The way he describes his summer holiday to Czechoslovakia had me laughing out loud. A very honest account of his younger years which shaped the man he was to become. Lets hope its not too long until he gives us the next installment. More stories please.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 29 September 2010
Alexei's memoir of his childhood and teenage days in Liverpool doesn't have the vitriol he was most known for in the 80s, but retains his surrealist-outsider stance - a collection of stories and anecdotes more than an autobiography, but still with laugh-aloud moments.

The only criticism I have of this book is its ending - the last anecdote finishes, then the book ends, with no epilogue, postscript or sense of what happens next. It's as if a second volume will follow soon and nobody wanted to spoil the surprises that'll be in that book.
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on 25 November 2013
When I was a child, I was taken to Florence and Venice for holdidays. Instead of spending time on beaches like all my friends did, I spent my holidays in churches and museums. Alexei Sayle, author of "Stalin Ate My Homework", was in a similar position. When his friends were watching Disney films, he had to watch Eisenstein. His holidays were mostly spent behind the 'Iron Curtain'. Both he and I now appreciate the unusual natures of our upbringings.

Sayle's childhood was particularly interesting because he was brought up by earnest British Communist Party members, who indoctrinated him in their beliefs. He accepts these to a large extent but realises that this set him apart from his fellow school pupils.

This book, an account of Sayle's childhood, has many funny moments but it is paced too slowly to get me 'rolling in the aisles'. It does, however, open an idiosyncratic window into the history of British communism in Britain in the 1950s and 1960s.

Only read this book if you are a quick reader!

Review by author of "SCRABBLE WITH SLIVOVITZ" & "ALBANIA ON MY MIND"
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Being a scouser myself and an Alexi Sayle fan, I was not disappointed with this memoir. It's not your average obligatory autobiography that's churned out by celebs these days. Instead it has the famous alexi sayle humour and insight that he is loved for. Growing up in a socialist environment myself, I was able to resonate and laugh along and sympathise with him. A great read.
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on 21 April 2013
I really enjoyed this book,it did not really matter or was important that this book was written by Alexei Sayle.It was not really about him as such,it was about a boy growing up in Liverpool in an unconventional and politically different environment in the middle of the tewntieth century , and how this person developed. This was certainly not a stand up comedian insight into how he became a star,but a witty and laugh out loud expose of his life with Molly and Joe,and his and their view of the world as they perceived it in the 1960's and 70's. Alexei Sayle does not come across as someone who goes into comedy because he makes his school friends laugh,it did not appear to have many,people seem to be laughing about him rather than with him.
A thoroughly recommended book for an insight into Alexei Sayle and his childhood, but also an insight into the social and architectual planning that was taking place after the end of the second world war, and how it was going to create a utopia for all to live in.
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Alexei Sayle's first volume of memoirs, starting with his birth on Merseyside to Jewish Socialists Mollie and Joe, is like no other `celebrity' autobiography you will ever encounter. Sayle's trademark bolshy in-your-face stand-up comedy is better understood when you've read about his bizarre upbringing and melancholic teenage persona; at the same time he writes with an honesty and a passion that demands respect for the man, and never seeks to paint himself as anything other than an `odd looking and very scary individual', spiky and awkward and consequently not the best at making friends or maintaining any kind of constructive relationship.
At the same time, the book is a fascinating insight into a period of massive upheaval and change in Liverpool and its surrounding townships, and Sayle's own development is mirrored in the rise and fall of the shipyards and football teams that have always lain at the beating heart of this proud city.
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on 5 November 2014
Having parents who took me to 1980s Poland (just before martial law was declared in 1981!) and Czechoslovakia in 1982 this brought back many memories. Particularly the tour of the Heydrich assasination sites in Prague, although I found it more interesting than young Alexei...

My parents were not hard-core British Communist Party members, and this aspect of Alexei's upbringing I found particularly interesting, especially their responses to Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968.

The book is slow in a number of places and I found the last 40 or so pages less interesting than the earlier ones, however this account of 1960s and 70s Britain reflects accurately some of the conflict and dogma that dominated the politics of the period.

Some non UK readers will find aspects less easy to follow, but UK readers should find some resonances with their lives in the 60s and 70
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on 15 October 2013
I especially enjoyed this book as it held quite a resonance with my own childhood as the child of a trade union official (and communist). I also have a great many ties with Liverpool and so it was great to be able to hear how things had changed (not necessarily for the better) and gave me an appreciation of what my parents would often say about how the 1960's new architecture had ruined many places. I loved Alexei's description of himself as a child and teenager - and I could really see how so many of the characters he portrayed in later years (especially The Young Ones) were as a result of his time growing up. He's a great comedian and now I have to say a great writer. He really does write as he talks and that made this book such a great read.
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on 13 March 2014
chose it because I am an Ex pat. from Liverpool UK ( living in Australia) and have been an admirer of many years.
I have a great affinity with his childhood. British Rail employee father With concessionary Tickets and a smashing dad to boot.
Communist mother would make Lenin look like a Liberal and on every protest possible.
As a similar aged man could could relate well to his home town experiences. A hilarious tome with plenty of humanity, candore and describes the angst of teen years beautifully.
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