14 November 2009

My What a Big Head You've Got

Unofficial CR II, Book 2: Anything Goes by John Barrowman with Carole E. Barrowman

I was prepared to love this book, but apparently not being an official Cannonballer has put a hex on my reads. Anything Goes is John Barrowman's (of Doctor Who and Torchwood fame) biography, and seems to be the first part of a life story. His second book, I Am What I Am was just released today. This first book chronicles Barrowman's childhood and rise to fame, but begins with John receiving the phone call that he got the part of Jack Harkness.

Barrowman's family hails from Mount Vernon, (same as me, only an ocean away) Glasgow, and they emigrated to the United States (Illinois); John and his sister were able to remain bi-dialectical, which proved quite useful for John's career. Discovering his love of singing at an early age, he was prodded along by family and teachers through school plays to musicals and competitions. Much of his early professional career was spent on stage in London, where he starred in productions of Company, Miss Saigon and The Fix. Later he appeared in the film version of The Producers and De-Lovely and a couple of failed U.S. television shows. But the role for which he is best known is Captain Jack Harkness, who first appeared in the Doctor Who series, and then the spin-off Torchwood.

As a child, Barrowman was greatly affected by S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders, and like many boys, obsessed with all things Star Wars. His family, mother, father, sister Carole and brother Andrew and grandmother "Murn" are all close and take fun trips together, play pranks upon each other and generally have plenty of good times. Barrowman writes a bit about being teased or picked on at times, but it seems to have more to do with his funny accent than his sexuality, and overall Barrowman seems to have fared well with acceptance in his life.

My main problem with this biography is that after a while, it just plain sounds braggy. I'm sad to say that he goes from being a bit of an underdog that I wanted to root for, to someone who sounds completely full of himself. He deservedly feels proud of his accomplishments, then tells tales of enjoying rubbing his success in certain peoples' faces, telling people off and the thrill of being a show's "number one". I was actually shocked to read a couple of bits where Barrowman dressed down this person or that for not treating him better (because he was an actor). I really do think there is a style of writing that could have allowed for the same stories to be told in a more humble manner. Barrowman goes into stories name dropping famous people, at first slowly, and then much more than seems necessary. He also liberally salted the book with silly footnotes that I suppose were supposed to be funny asides, but became terribly annoying since they rarely added important information. I felt like I was at a cocktail party, got to meet a hero, and then got sick of him droning on about himself.

To be fair, there were bits and stories contained within this biography that elicited a chuckle or a smile, but overall, I was disappointed. I really have no interest in reading I Am What I Am. But like Captain Jack himself, I know he's a looker and a great actor, so I will indeed keep watching Torchwood.

1 comment:

guiltypartner said...

ah, the braggy autobiography. i hope to write one, presently.