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Good Summary - A Bit Too Neutral
on 25 May 2009
Cliff Goodwin does a good job of succinctly summarising the life of Oliver Reed.
This biography is not written with a judgemental bias, which would have been an easy approach to take, given Reed's legendary antisocial behaviour. However, Goodwin is a bit too neutral, especially regarding Reed's violent outbursts. He tells the story well, but gives the impression that whatever Reed did was mostly a bit of fun that sometimes got out of hand.
Reed had serious issues adjusting to society, but on P.246 Goodwin says that Reed had "few psychological hang-ups". That doesn't ring true when you reflect that Reed was so often obnoxiously rude and violent that he was banned from many London restaurants. Few who witnessed Reed losing control could have escaped the feeling that his mental state was at least questionable. Most people never dream of exploding violently, never mind throwing chairs through restaurant windows to liven things up a bit. Just a hint of 'psychological hang-ups' ... !
Oddly enough nothing is said of the quantity of alcohol that caused Reed's death, i.e. 3 BOTTLES of rum, 8 bottles of beer and several doubles of Scotch !
Goodwin does capture some tender aspects of Reed's nature, albeit that they were well hidden.
Goodwin has an easy writing style and holds the reader's interest well, except for a minor digression in Reed's ancestry in Chapter 2.