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Alone: The Triumph and Tragedy of John Curry Hardcover – 31 Jul 2014

4.8 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing (31 July 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408853426
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408853429
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 3.3 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 194,383 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Alone is more than a sports biography. ...it is a timely reminder of the fine boundary between sport and art and the courage it took, and still takes, to be a gay athlete.
- Sunday Times

a terrific read, filled with juicy detail and driven by sympathy for a man who who was feted as a national hero but was extremely hard to like.
- The Times

A moving and explosive biography of an ice skating genius
- Manchester Evening News

movingly told
- Choice Magazine

A fascinating exploration of a tragic talent. - Attitude


Book Description

The previously-untold story of the life and tragic early death of John Curry, one of the most famous ice skaters in history.

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Format: Hardcover
When John Curry was seven years old he told his mother he wanted to take ballet lessons. She agreed but his father, a man who had escaped from a POW camp in World War II, did not. In 1950’s Birmingham, ballet was not an acceptable pastime for a factory owner’s son,
so the young Curry took up skating, which his father considered a sport. Curry’s father committed suicide when the future Olympic champion was sixteen, but as Bill Jones’s fascinating biography of Curry, ‘Alone,” makes clear: Curry senior’s unthinking prejudice was the crucial moment in his son’s life. Curry was a skater who wanted to dance, not like so many skaters, an athlete who had learned how to be graceful – and it was his desire to be the Nureyev of the ice that was both his strength and ultimately his undoing.

Figure skating when Curry was growing up was resolutely athletic. In order to give some objective rigour to the judging, the lion’s share of the marks went to the compulsory figures – hieroglyphs carved out in ice that judges would decipher. Curry was never a big jumper like the Eastern bloc skaters, he just wanted to dance using his whole body. His coaches told him to stop waving his arms around ‘ like a girl, it was unmanly.’ As he said later, “ they just wanted to turn me into a jumping robot.” There was an unspoken homophobic agenda at work, the British Skating Association favoured athletic and obviously heterosexual skaters like the British champion Haig Oundijan, Curry’s ‘effeminacy’ was not a desirable image for the sport. Curry’s grace and musicality were not appreciated by the skating establishment, as he put it, “ I felt like I spent the whole year learning a poem only to recite it to deaf people.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I recommend this book highly - I read it in one sitting, and could not put it down until I had finished it. Bill Jones has written a brilliant, insightful, fascinating book about one of the most important and gifted artists of all time - John Curry, tortured, lonely, brave and driven by an unrequited search for perfection. John took ice into a new dimension, created an unforgettable troupe of inspiring performers, bullying and nurturing them in equal measure. He awakened in them an artistic spirit that would carry them into New York's Metropolitan Opera House - a spirit which would survive even when John himself had long since left the stage.

This book is particularly meaningful to me, because I helped to launch The John Curry Skating Company, and with my partner, David Spungen, spent several years trying desperately to establish it. In the end we lost the battle, but the world had seen skating's brightest star shining in a universe that only he could create. Bill Jones has written a beautifully crafted book, well balanced, candid and moving. He has painted an extraordinary portrait of a highly complex man, while at the same time managing to set his story in the context of a world which was just awakening to the ravages of AIDS. Bravo!
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Format: Hardcover
Top book, absolute must read.

You can feel the tension screwing upwards, tighter and tighter towards the end as it hurtles towards the inevitable fall. Completely gripping.

You've got to have a friend/relative read it too because you'll be so desperate to talk about him afterwards.

Tom Daly? Ian Thorpe? Michael Sam? All have received such glowing press recently for being openly gay world-class athletes, but this guy did it 30 years ago, and with HIV!

A bit of a great British underdog story with John blighted by the classic Shakespearean fatal character flaw.

Can't remember the name but Bill Jones has written another good book about a runner called John Tarrant - worth checking out if you enjoy this.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
John Curry's name is one that many people (of a certain age) will remember - and think 'Whatever happened to him?' as he seemed to quickly disappear from our consciousness after his great triumph at the 1976 Olympics when he became headline news in every paper. He is remembered for changing the style of international figure skating, and had a lasting impact on the well known names that followed - Robin Cousins, Torville & Dean, etc.

This book is clearly a well-researched biography which, due to the secretive nature of the subject, relied greatly on piecing together cohesively all the information from detailed interviews with family, friends and skating opponents who knew him - no mean feat. All credit to the author, as the result is a seamless, and seemingly balanced biography which makes for fascinating and fairly compulsive reading. Such a pity that there is so little documented information from the subject himself - but he apparently didn't keep anything, preferring to guard his privacy (his prerogative, after all). However his letters to his friends do shed some extra light on his character.

You won't necessarily like the man later in life as his hard demands on his company of skaters, and apparent avoidance of facing up to business realities, get him into all sorts of trouble, but there is a picture of someone single-minded and driven, who is always striving for perfection in himself and others. You only have to look at the You-tube videos from those days to see the results (and you should). I can only think that he must have had considerable charm to sustain the loyalty of most of his friends and associates throughout his life. There are also tantalising glimpses of his sexual liaisons to fill out that essential side of his character.

All in all, a fascinating read about a troubled, and at times difficult, man.
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