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How Not to Grow Up: A Coming of Age Memoir. Sort of. Paperback – 6 May 2010
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"A thoroughly entertaining confessional... cheeky, self-deprecating and very human" (Metro)
"If you've ever secretly wondered when you're going to grow up, How Not To Grow Up is one for you..." (Lauren Laverne Grazia)
"Razor sharp and very funny" (Shortlist Magazine)
The misadventures of an immature man in an adult worldSee all Product description
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THE FIRST BOOK.
How To Grow Up Not is a landmark in Mr. Herring's career. Erstwhile star of The Stew And Spuds Show, Herring delivers the first in I hope at least a series of four autobiographical accounts of his own life, which he has written. As you might guess from the title, the book details the scientific (MIS!) adventures of MR. Herring as he attempted to prevent the aging of his body and mind in the summer of 2006 and the autumn also of that same year. By turns touching, heartfelt, and a darn sight funnier than his last book (which has yet to be published), his tale is not only riveting but also written in English, a boon indeed.
My only complaint about the book is that at 20mm thick it's a good 10mm thicker than the space I had left on my shelf, so I was forced to discard my copy of Hodges' And Bertram's Digital Almanac (60mm), and then acquire a copy of Michael Caine's (writing as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) Sherlock Holmes And The Spooky Ghost (50mm GIVE OR TAKE), which meant that despite receiving Hertling's book for free, I still wound up spending pounds sterling!!! Oh dear!!!
I would recommend this to any one who likes Richard Hearing, childhoods, books 20mm thick, compulsive readers, holidaymakers, the women and non-fiction science-horror.
His writing style is clear and occasionally very funny as he describes the gulf of experience between himself at age 40 and how his parents were at that age. However, I felt the ground he covers has been well-trodden, especially by John Cleese's Families and How to Survive Them. Also, I wanted more of a personal touch. The cover shows Herring with a big Chopper, with a bunch of models posing as disapproving, middle-aged people in the background. It would have been much more interesting for the book to be filled with family snap-shots of Herring and his siblings as they went on holiday or attended birthday parties or whatever. As it is, the pages are completely bare of photos.
There is a good book somewhere between the covers trying to get out, but Herring on this occasion doesn't quite nail it.
On the telly, I like Richard Herring. He comes across as a bit of an oaf, but obviously intelligent and usually quite perceptive and witty. Being a few years older than him, I was interested to read what effect turning forty would have had on such a fellow.
Essentially he seems to feel unfulfilled, and like many of his age, he wonders if he has been wasting his life up to now. It's all too easy for him to claim that it's not all beer and skittles in the madcap world of comedy. Anyone sentient enough to pick up the book is aware of that - we all appreciate it must take a lot of hard work to do what he does, and his problem seems to be not that he doesn't/won't do the work, but that he still seems to see it as a weakness to admit that he does the work.
This book is Herring's apology for having fun for the last twenty years. He drinks a lot and often; he attends many functions you and I will never be invited to; his minor celebrity status is enough to get him groupies, and he sometimes takes advantage of that (probably more often than he lets on); he seems to have a number of decent close friends of both sexes, and many more (again, of both sexes) he can return to after lengthy breaks when he feels like it; and he is obviously financially secure.
He comes across unfortunately as rather immature, a little self-centred and sadly just plain unlikeable. Comments are made about a number of his peers (usually anonymous peers), and he seems to genuinely envy or resent the level of success some of them have achieved. It doesn'r seem to occur to him that they may be more talented than he is.
It's also a bit of a problem that many of the characters in the book are at least minor celebrities themselves, although Herring gives them pseudonyms to protect their identities. This might salve his conscience, but it does leave the reader doubting the veracity some of the incidents portrayed.
The cover of the book suggests it might be fun, but it is a tedious read. Herring is more fortunate than 90% of the population - he may not have everything he wants, but who has, and he is in a much better position than most of us to get it, whatever it is! I don't want to hear his self-indulgent whining.
After reading some of the other reviews, I re-read the final 50 pages or so, in case I had missed something. I hadn't - this piece of the book is the most poorly written. If you read it you will understand why - slight spoiler alert - that portion was written about a relationship which survived to the end of the book (it may even survive to this day - I don't know). It is cloying, sycophantic and soppy to the point of nausea. Possibly he really is that smitten, but I suspect it's more his sense of self-preservation - no-one's going to openly criticise a current (possibly permanent?) partner in print.
Finally, the editing is poor, with a number of continuity errors, including one character whose name changed sometime between leaving a pub and getting into a taxi!
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