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Spike is an artist, not a saint
on 11 January 2004
May I first declare that I did enjoy this book and my enthusiasm for Spike Milligan remained undimmed at the end of it. However at times I felt this was despite the best efforts of serial biographer Humphrey Carpenter. It's apparent something bugged him while he was working on this. In the early few chapters he is grasping at Spike-like humour and invention in the text, but soon this gives way to carping at Milligan's very existence. It is well understand that Spike was a difficult man and we would need to rely on a biography rather than Spike's volumous autobiographical writing to get close to this, but there is a sense that Carpenter has gone too far the other way and given far too much space and credence to Spike's detractors and serially attempts to discredit Spike's own version of events without actually getting to the bottom of his motivation. While I am grateful to him for evoking Spike's life in this more multi-dimensional way, I do hope that he revisits it for the paperback issue and edits some of the more sloppy passages. The footnote on page 217 is a good example of these unjustified slights.