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58 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Somebody I'd Like to Know...
I've admired David Mitchell's TV work for a long time - much preferring his panel shows, with their lightning fast wit and theatre-sports improvisation to the scripted stuff like Peepshow or the sketch shows. "Would I Lie To You?" is, I think, one of the most delightful shows to screen on British TV in a long long time, just because of the its unpredictability. In fact,...
Published on 5 Nov. 2012 by peekayinhk

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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Warm, light and highly readable
As with all celebrity autobiographies, if you're a fan of the celebrity, there's a high probability that you'll enjoy the book. If not, you're unlikely to read it anyway. That's a point that's made often, but that probably bears repeating.

The structure of this book is slightly novel, in that it follows Mitchell on a walk around London, with reminisces and...
Published on 22 Nov. 2012 by Dr. Simon Howard


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45 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny and moving, 12 Oct. 2012
This is brilliantly written, laugh-out-loud funny and also surprisingly revealing. I found the chapter about his love for Victoria Coren really moving, while anecdotes about lobsters and Olivia Colman are hysterical. Definitely recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars David Mitchell the man, not an extension of his work, 23 May 2013
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People are approaching this book with a view that it is more David Mitchell humorous content. That it'll be like one massive observer column. Or a seemingly unending soapbox. Or a long peep show monologue. Or a giant written and performed sketch. People are wrong.

The approach to almost all art forms governs a large part of your experience of them. Try to keep second guessing a film and even the greats will bore you. The same goes for books, and this book is a great demonstration of the importance of approach. 'Back Story' is for people interested in David Mitchell the person, not David Mitchell's body of work. That's not to say that if you like Mitchell's work, you won't like his book but rather you need to be interested in him as a person to like the book.
People complain that the book wasn't funny. But looking at the text, you don't see Mitchell trying and failing to be funny. That isn't the point of the book. Where he tried to be funny he was, but on the whole this isn't meant to have you laughing throughout.

The book is great. It doesn't have a life lesson or a universal truth to it. It does have a detailed and interesting story of a funny and intelligent man's life.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too Soon?, 3 July 2013
By 
A. Marczak "mazzarak" (Mordor) - See all my reviews
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There's a lot said about the celebrity auto-biography genre. Too many, too early in their career, not done enough etc. This one teeters on the edge a little. Mitchell takes us on a symbolic walk through London, remedial treatment for his back (Back Story, geddit?), while landmarks trigger memories that happily lead us into the next chapter.

It's in huge contrast to Camp David by David Walliams that Mitchell is happy to concede that he had a very happy childhood, albeit that much of the dating scene passed him by. A brief trip through the Cambridge Footlights leads us to a few shows in Edinburgh, the genesis of Peep Show, various sketch shows, ending with the panel show stalwart that we know and enjoy.

It would be wrong to say that I didn't enjoy it, it's funny, it's charming and it's intelligent. Did he need to write it yet? After all, Arthur Smith has crammed twice as much into the same space, and there is a part of me that feels that a life needs to be fascinating or at least long before it is worthy of a memoir.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Back in the Sad-dle Again, 7 Jan. 2013
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Autobiographies are not my favourite type of book as I often end up disliking the writer by the end. Many famous people sound like they are not very nice to know and with the proliferation of `warts and all' biogs you learn far too much about them. David Mitchell's `Back Story' is almost the antithesis of this, he brings his usual slightly standoffish approach to the book, but by doing so he actually reveals a lot more about himself. This book was certainly not ghost written as you can almost hear the voice of the comedian as you read from the page. It is refreshing to read a biog that never claims to be full of sex, drug and rock `n' roll; this book certainly has little of these.

Mitchell appears to have had a happy upbringing and was fortunate enough to go to a decent school and get into Cambridge. The book is both a walk with Mitchell round London, but also a similar stroll through his life. He cherry picks moments from his history that give you an overview of what his life was like at the time - school, university, struggling to get work etc. It is a pretty bland life (if you can call working on TV bland), but his intelligent and witty writing style makes the book a pleasure to read. Something like Andrew Collins' `Where did it All Go right?' shows how hard it is to make the more mundane interesting to read.

With such a distinct writing voice whether you like Mitchell as a comedian will ultimately dictate whether you like the book. This is his story told in his words, if you do not like the man may I suggest that you read something else. A follow up question is why on Earth you are reading it? I am a fan of the man and of the book; the lack of excitement in his life does mean that the book lacks an edge. What you get instead is a pleasant read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, 8 Jan. 2013
An entertaining read in David Mitchell's familiar self depracating style. He'd probably be the first to admit that he hasn't had the most eventful life. The secret is in the way he delivers it. Never boring, with a flair for the interesting sidetrack. Anyone who enjoys his Observer columns will like this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly recommended., 18 Dec. 2012
By 
J. P. Ellison "jpellison" (UK) - See all my reviews
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I'm a big fan of David Mitchell. I really enjoy his sketch shows, his panel show appearances, and his performance on Peep Show. So it's not really that much of a surprise that I enjoyed this book.

First of all, the bad: I didn't really like the framing device. The book is set up as if Mitchell is going on a "walk", with each chapter starting with him in a different part of London, referencing some form of architecture or other and using it as a launching point for the next part of his life story. I don't really think this worked, nor was it consistent, and it pretty much tailed off as the book ended. I also think there are a few points in the book where Mitchell talks about things that aren't particularly interesting, but do make him appear more normal.

Those two (actually quite petty) complaints aside, I felt this was an excellent biography. I enjoyed learning about how David Mitchell grew up, how he got involved with comedy, and how he met the people he works with today. It was interesting learning about his love-life, and refreshing to read about someone who is successful, but still not much of a ladies man.

All of this backstory is told with warmth and humility, but more importantly it's littered with some excellent observations and the occasional rant. Exactly the sort of thing I was looking for in a David Mitchell book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Three books in one, 28 Nov. 2012
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This book frames David Mitchell's autobiography and his trademark diatribes (some funny, some not) inside a walking tour of London from Kilburn to the BBC. What he sees along the way triggers his musings and reminiscences. But in the first half of the book, this structure does not seem to work - the links to his life story seem forced and his insights on London are often mundane. In one startling revelation he tells how those big white London houses would once have held a single family and their servants, and then makes an awkward link into the story of his childhood. On this evidence, David Mitchell should never work as a straight historical tour guide (not, luckily, that he would ever need to do so outside of Peep Show).

Thankfully, the book gets better as it goes along and the walking tour element is gradually abandoned in favour of a more straightforward autobiography of Footlights and breaking into TV comedy. There is still plenty to make you laugh in this book, and above all, David Mitchell is an interesting character to share a few pages with. Is he really the lonely, awkward pub bore he portrays? How did he end up stuck with that haircut? It's entertaining reading if you like his comedy or are intrigued by the man himself, but don't get your hopes too high.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a nice man, 1 Dec. 2012
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Mrs. K. A. Wheatley "katywheatley" (Leicester, UK) - See all my reviews
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I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Not only does David Mitchell come across as a decent human being and a likeable man, but his writing style is also eminently readable. I love the premise of the book, as he takes you with him on his daily walk from his flat in Kilburn through to Television Centre in Shepherd's Bush. The story of his life unfolds against the backdrop of his meanderings and his random thoughts about things like FRPs (Flat Roofed Pubs) and dog ownership. I think I loved this bit in particular because I know the places he is talking about and have walked them a fair number of times myself. It gave me a sense of communion with him, which is, of course, entirely fictional, but rather endearing nonetheless.

The journey and the digressions lend a whimsical style to his life story which gives an evenness of tone to the writing and entertains throughout. Usually, in a biography, unless the person's life has been fascinating from day one the pace of the book can be rather uneven, and the plod through childhood is endured until the person's life becomes interesting enough that you are hooked. In this case, the quality of the writing means that the book is interesting from the beginning.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest read, 6 Dec. 2012
By 
Sam M (England) - See all my reviews
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I am familiar with David Mitchell's TV work and his writing, I find him funny and enjoy his style. If you also like his work you will enjoy this book, it is more of the same with some deeper personal insights. It is a simple biography detailing key stages is David's life sewn into a walk through London. David's life is pretty normal so there are no shock scenes or headlines to be had but his honesty in analysing some of his motivations and moods at different times in his life are quite insightful. I enjoyed it from beginning to end.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's decent, 19 Jan. 2013
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It's not Tolstoy, but I don't think anyone is expecting that. If you have any interest in David Mitchell (the comedian), a bit of the inner workings of television or some humorous anecdotes, then you will probably be very happy with this book.
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