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Dandy in the Underworld Paperback – 26 Jun 2008

4.0 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre (26 Jun. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340934085
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340934081
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.3 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 248,871 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'The fabulous and fascinating story of the flamboyant artist/writer/poet growing up in a family of chaos, alcohol and insanity. Beautifully written and unflinchingly honest, this is a mind-blowing tale of a life out of control.' (Elle)

'Consistently witty...Dandy in the Underworld is not for everyone but it is also funny, moving and the best book of its type since Lorna Sage's Bad Blood. If you can stand it, it is likely to be one of the most compelling reads of the year.' (New Statesman)

'Like Salvador Dali's confessions, only far funnier and more self-deprecating, Dandy in the Underworld entertains as much as it revolts, is as tender as it is shocking, and as genuine as it is false.' (Independent)

'A flat-out demented and compelling account of a life gone wrong...hilarious, sometimes beautiful' (Time Out)

'[he] charts his diabolical decline and fall in rip-roaring style...a devilishly charming companion as he describes his wilfully deviant journey on the road to rack and ruin (Metro)

'it is his family that make this eye-popping memoir compelling...incredibly funny' (London Paper)

'Dandy in the Underworld is a compulsive autobiography that tells the blackest truths in the jauntiest tone.' (Independent on Sunday)

It's great. For although very, very funny at times, it is also useful, and possibly important; which is all the more remarkable considering that the subject, while full of a self-love that makes Narcissus look like a wallflower, would scoff at the idea of his being useful and important. (Guardian)

one of the funniest, strangest, most revolting memoirs you're ever likely to read. (Sunday Times - Summer Reads)

Book Description

'One of the funniest, strangest and most revolting memoirs ever written' Sunday Times

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This might rank as one of the strangest autobiographies you will ever read. Horsley describes in alarming detail his very peculiar upbringing, his alienation from his parents, his drug taking, his whoring, his dandyism and his artistry; no "sordid" detail is obscured.

But, start at the beginning; this is an "unauthorised autobiography", and this sardonic vein continues through it. While it's witty, the jokes are mostly derivative, the puns are obvious and somehow expected. Ultimately, it gets to be a bit tedious; he's trying to be too clever, yet failing. And this might typify his life; a poseur posing as a poseur.

You almost never get to meet the real Horsley, he's hidden behind a veil of wit and parody; despite being frank, there's always the feeling that he knows that he is a failure. He's the little lost boy seeking the maternal love that he never had, and if he recognises this, he's too scared to admit it.

And when you've read the book, look up "foetal alcohol syndrome" and wonder if he had not experienced this, whether he might have been a true artistic genius.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book in a HMV sale and loved it so much I bought it again for my sister. Within the first few paragraphs it had me laughing out loud. I didn't know who Sebastian Horsley was at the time of reading, but by the end I was looking him up and his work. Sadly he's dead now, so there won't be any more tales to add ... but you'll be glad he put together this little gem.

As a brief synopsis, this is the life of an artist, a rebel, a madman, a genius and quite possible a pervert, or perhaps sex addict, all of which is put out there without the slightest bit of shame and without the feeling anything is being held back. If you want a guide book about how to life life for its opportunities then you should take a look at this.
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Format: Paperback
Few books seem to have sent readers flying to extremes as this one. Horsely's marmite persona is certainly going to divide opinion, but I frankly think that the reaction to this book is quite silly. I've read things that are more shocking and less shocking, and the prose style is wedged firmly in the middle of the universal scale of aptitude. To be blunt: It's ok. I don't see what all the fuss is about.
I can already feel Horsley searching around for the lace glove with which to slap my blasphemous face. That this is a man who wishes to be loved or hated is quite obvious from the contrived attempts to rile the reader that are scattered throughout. He wants to shock. He wants reaction. Sadly, I can't give that to him: he's interesting, certainly, and this is better than a great deal of biographies you can invest in; although in an era where any wealthy heiress and her dog can get their life story published for doing absolutely sod all, that's not saying much.
One of the things I enjoyed was Horsley's justification for his lack of morality and social conscience: at the novel's conclusion he's practically philisophical. I like the way he appreciates the worthlessness of his own existence. I like the fact that he steals excessively from his icons: if you criticise him for plagiarism, you're not seeing the joke.

Those are the things I enjoyed. Now for the things I disliked.

Firstly, Horsley, as a narrator is... well... really, really annoying. Yes, his self-absorption can be amusing; yes, his narcissism can be charming... but after about a hundred or so pages, it all gets a little wearing.
Horsley is at his most engaging when you catch glimpses of the frustrated and terminally neglected little boy from which he grew.
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Format: Paperback
Up until his untimely death some weeks before this review was written, Horsley's was a curiously unenviable life of seething excess, consumed by relentless decadence and velvet adorned decay. And yet he still somehow managed to defy the odds in writing this book of exceptional clarity & wit, before his offbeat ways finally stole the very beat from his heart. In other words, despite living the extraordinarily unstructured life of a 'die hard' waster in a bespoke bowler hat, he nonetheless wrote this truly engaging, most disciplined book - which rarely fails to be wickedly funny. Methinks "Dandy in The Underworld" is one day destined to be a cult classic, or at least it should be so for future generations of unashamedly well educated dropouts. Here's why...

Horsley was a one of a kind: a most privileged oddball who lived in a grand Georgian house in the seediest part of london, whose door bore the stern instruction for all passers by that "There are no prosti...'s at this address" and yet beyond that door's polished brass plate lived one of the greatest & most dedicated philanderers who ever lived. And by his standards that would be a very great compliment indeed, as you'll soon find on reading this most underrated autobiography.

Here you'll find what it is like to live the life of an uncommonly brazen addict who, unlike most, enjoyed "a certain spiritual charm that comes from having money in the bank". In many ways, Horsley was a 21st century hybrid of Bolan, Borroughs & Wilde. For his decadent ways, he made no excuses: "it is better to be hated for what you are, than loved for what you are not.
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