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A Poor, Poor attempt and NOT a Biography...,
This review is from: Looking For Robbie: A Biography Of Robbie Coltrane (Hardcover)
Author Neil Norman must have thought "easy money, I've already done the interview" and carried on from there. The book starts with an interview Norman had with Coltrane some time before beginning work on this book. Even here, the only time he comes face to face with Coltrane, Norman isn't content to just print the (already printed) interview, he analyses it and dissects everything Coltrane says, every nuance is held under Normans own microscope. He gives his bitter opinion of everything Coltrane says or does and in the course of this autopsy implies that any interview or conversation with Coltrane will leave you floundering in smoke and mirrors and you must always read between the lines to get the truth. Norman practically congratulates himself on how clever he is at seeing through Coltranes veneer and how well written his original article was. It is a very petty, snidey opening chapter and a short one at that. It concludes with the admission that this book will not actually be a biography at all;
"Rather than abandon the book...I have ...come up with an alternative method of dealing with the subject. I shall attempt to discover the nature of Coltrane through his work rather than his life."
As if this facetiousness wasn't enough, his next two chapters go on to draw on other peoples writings of Coltranes childhood and schooling, and again Norman takes pleasure in pointing out (in his opinion) Coltranes errors in describing his schooling, how Coltranes answers can't be trusted etc. It must be said, Norman is in fact quite an anus. When he occasionally offers praise for a performance at is more often than not immediately followed by comments on Coltranes weight or relationships. The book then lurches into film review mode for the next 100 pages and quite poorly at that.At page 134 (paperback version), as if he hasn't shown his (empty) hand already, and I still can't believe he got away with this (editors day off? drunken publishers?) he than begins the chapter entitled Cracker:Blow by Blow. Yes - it's a description of the series ALREADY COVERED earlier in the book, but in much, much more detail. This goes on until page 213 and the final 5 page chapter where Norman comes up with some suppositions about what all this has told us (or him) about Robbie Coltrane.
This is a poor, poor effort at a biography. It may be well written from the point of view of spelling, punctuation and perhaps content, but the content doesn't match expectation. To me this could just have been a bunch of film and TV series reviews cobbled together with a guess at what the performances reveal about the actor.