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You Cannot Live as I Have Lived and Not End Up Like This: The Thoroughly Disgraceful Life and Times of Willie Donaldson Hardcover – 22 Mar 2007

3.9 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 342 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Press; 1st edition (22 Mar. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091913861
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091913861
  • Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 2.9 x 22.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 494,039 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

`A splendidly entertaining romp through a life misled.' -- New Statesman

`A startling and brilliant biography that reads like a Rake's Progress for the 21st century.' -- Daily Mail

`Has the texture of life-as-it-is-lived, the usual province of fiction' -- Craig Brown, Daily Telegraph

`Superb... it would be a brilliant picaresque novel, if it were not all true.' -- Indpendent

`Sympathetic and extremely enjoyable.' -- Daily Telegraph

Book Description

'A startling and brilliant biography that reads like a Rake's Progress for the 21st century' - Daily Mail --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Big Jim TOP 100 REVIEWER on 26 Feb. 2008
Format: Paperback
I read this in two days so I suppose that makes it an "easy" read. Donaldson seems to have been one of those dissolute souls who had trouble coping with the realities of the world. Initially divorced from such reality through extreme wealth he later escaped through drugs and debauched living. Undoubtedly a witty and engaging man, he appears to have had little loyalty for his friends which makes it quite strange to find how much loyalty they had to him.

This is an engaging biography of someone who could have been much more famous than he was, and anyone who obviously upset the incalculably smug editors of Private Eye has to have had something going for him
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By Ed on 27 Nov. 2008
Format: Hardcover
Nothing in my experience of life to date could prepare me for reading this book. All templates or "character types" have to be ditched in the case of this gentleman. He not only made it up as he went along but also fashioned a crack pipe out of it on the way. Hamilton's life makes that of aleister crowley seem like that of head girl at my grandmother's convent school. I flatter myself that he'd have enjoyed the exaggeration and reproach myself for not knowing such a card as this.
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Format: Hardcover
I was drawn to this book because William Donaldson was the author of the excellent and subversive Henry Root letters. His life and times were as bizarre as you might expect from that author... This portrait opens up a fascinating world, and makes you feel as if you have met 'Willy' - who was witty, creative but also repeatedly self-destructive. It's a great read because the author is sympathetic and clearly likes his subject, but he can see all Donaldson's faults. He appears to have interviewed all the right people, who knew the man well. The book is often very funny indeed, and truly weird at times, not to mention seedy ('nothing wrong with that'as Root would no doubt say), but it's also moving and sad. Highly recommended.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
What a life! I absolutely loved this book and would have dearly loved to meet its subject too. The writing is warm, generous and knowing, as befits an old friend, but also objective and perceptive. It's also very funny.....how could it not be, given the subject. Great title too.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was driven to read this after reading Brewer's Rogues, Villains and Eccentrics and wanting to know more about the author.

In some ways, I wish I hadn't; although Terence Blacker writes beautifully, it's about a failure of a life, somebody who managed to turn most of what they touched into ruins. I was reminded of a biography I read of Peter Sellers years ago, that posited he was a man incapable of joy and quite wicked; poor Willie, with his expertise at self-sabotage, seems a kindred spirit. Donaldson seems like a quite awful person, and yet at the same time a great talent that never made enough of himself.

However, it's definitely worth a read, if only to understand how money, crack cocaine and prostitutes can't always bring you happiness. For further reading on the joys of cocaine, you could do worse than The Death of Marco Pantani: A Biography
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Format: Hardcover
I just got done re-reading this, after recently finding my dogeared & stained copy of Brewer's Rogues, Villains and Eccentrics: An A-Z of Roguish Britons Through the Ages. I'm not ready to go visit the Continent with Henry Root and his lady wife(Root Into Europe [VHS] [1992], but I just want to say, Willie Donaldson was definitely a CHARACTER!!.
His obituary in the Telegraph was classic, featuring this quote from Kenneth Tynan: "...an old Wykehamist who ended up as a moderately successful Chelsea pimp". He was also a successful(and failed) "theatrical impresario, a crack-smoking serial adulterer and a writer of autobiographical novels; but it was under the nom de plume Henry Root that he became best known."
Now all we need is a biopic based on this book, starring either Mark Gattis or David Walliams, maybe with Rachel Hurd-Wood as Carly Simon(she's almost got the lips for the role)

BTW, I give this book 4 of 5 stars. I give "Brewer's Rogues, etc" 5 stars, and would joyfully give it more, if only an updated version would include Willie Donaldson.
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Format: Hardcover
An extraordinary, fascinating, alternately depressing and very funny book - like its subject. I could not put it down, as they always say in the reviews.

Only someone with vey little sense of humour could dislike it - or him.

If you want to know what it was like to live in a certain milieu in the late 20th century, this is the book - I say this from a little experience.

As I knew some one or two of the people involved, I had a couple of complaints about the facts, and the grammar is a bit odd five or six times, but an astounding, alternately sad and hilarious life well described.

Also, for me anyhow, Donaldson comes over as having great charm and often being surprisingly thoughtful with a great gift for seeing and joyfully skewering the ludicrous.

His writing style was extraordinarily good; anyone praised by Auberon Waugh and Craig Brown has to be very special. The person who comes out of it worst is that pompous prick Sir Jonathan Miller.
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