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Prick Up Your Ears: The Biography of Joe Orton Paperback – 2 Sep 2002

4.2 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; New edition edition (2 Sept. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747560145
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747560142
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 182,544 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'Amazingly explicit and compulsively readable' -- Guardian

'An important and illuminating book ... Lahr writes beautifully' -- David Mamet, Chicago Tribune

'As good as literary biography gets' -- New York Times Book Review

'Lahr matches insight, biography and judgement in exact proportions' -- Observer

'Sensationally exciting' -- Newsweek

From the Publisher

The classic biography of Joe Orton, originally chosen Book of the Year by Truman Capote and Nobel Prize-winning novelist Patrick White when it first appeared in 1978. Lahr chronicles Orton's working-class childhood and stage struck adolescence, the scandals and disasters of his early professional years, and the brief, glittering success of his blistering comedies, ENTERTAINING MR. SLOANE, LOOT, and WHAT THE BUTLER SAW.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is perhaps the best literary biography I have ever read. Lahr's writes with integrity throughout; the first chapter deals with the facts of orton's death as if to despatch with any tendency to sensationalism or melodrama. He also approachs Orton's work with due caution, not a writer to sell his subject's talent through biography. What emerges is an engrossing story in itself, of the 'other side' of sixties life.
I was never much of a fan of Orton's work before this, but as a man he interests me hugely. He has seemed to have gained a misplaced reputation as a cutting edge sixties sexual revolutionary, but Lahr's Orton is a throwback to the days of Coward and leisure class decadence. At one point Lahr relates how Orton was against homosexuality being legalised or accepted into the mainstream; he was excited by the exclusivity and secrecy of it. He was more wannabe aristocrat than liberal revolutionary.
This book is hugely entertaining, thanks in a large part to the richness of Lahr's source material, Orton's diaries, which serve as a useful companion volume to this. Not just as a treatment of one man's life, but as an evocation of the sixties as a period of transition and one man caught in the middle, this book is essential.
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Format: Paperback
For anyone interested in the theatre, media, celebrity or the 60's this is a must read. Orton is a fascinatingly complex character, but it's his candid (and sometimes wicked) frankness that grabs your complete attention. Sarcastic, caustic, egotistical, warped, macabre - all go into the melting pot that was Joe Orton - a unique artist and an original for his time. For anyone who has heard the expression 'Orton-esque', this is an essential guide for understanding exactly what this means.

In my opinion, Orton's diary (if it were all true) makes for more delightful comedy than any of his plays (with maybe the exception of his masterpiece - the groundbreaking What The Butler Saw). His knack of picking up dialogue from the wackiest of people and places, his barbed comments about theatrical legends of his time, his ruthless pursuit of sex and buggery, the brilliantly defaced library books, his heartless treatment of his long-term partner (and ultimately his murderer) Kenneth Halliwell - not to mention the fabulously entertaining letters from 'Edna Welthorpe' - all conspire to make one gasp in horror, awe and admiration for one man's audacity, verve and vivacity for life - and death.
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Don't get me wrong - this biography is very meticulous in its exploration of Orton and his works. Very meticulous indeed. So meticulous in fact that it takes up about two thirds of the book. The other third covers Orton's and Halliwell's relationship revealing little that isn't in the public domain already or on the internet. If you are serious about Orton's works buy this book - if you want an in depth biography you may need to buy something else. Try Simon Shepherd's book 'Because we're Queers' written from a gay man's perspective. Quite academic and goes into detail on the cultural and political climate of the 50s and 60s putting Orton's work in a different light and a healthy balance to this one.
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Format: Paperback
if there was evr a tragic,but humourous account of a very complex and exciting guy,then this is the one.from a "mediocre" estate in anonymous leicester,he had real talent.i wish i could have met him.in this biography i feel ive got a friend who is sarcastic,witty,cutting,promiscuous,intelligent.....nothing like his friend halliwell. somehow halliwell was a living memory to orton of his grey and unhappy past.a constant reminder.
just like quentin crisp,kenneth williams,tony hancock,there are so many facets to orton,he has got to be on your shelf.....along with the other "greats".
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Not as shocking as some of the other reviewers make it out to be. They must have led sheltered lives if this kind of thing makes them wince. An interesting tale of the final few years of Joe Orton's life, and life in the 1960s for gay men. Just a shame that Mr Orton only started the diary as he hit the big time, which was not long before he was killed. Now, if only he'd survived to tell the tales when he was in his 70s or 80s. Wow, that would have been a book worth waiting for!
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