I grabbed a signed copy of Anna Spargo-Ryan’s memoir from Booktopia, partly as a solidarity move, because I like her Twitter game and I know this book means a lot to her. And partly out of curiosity. I wanted to see just how good a writer she really is. I suspected the answer might be ‘pretty fucking good’, but man, that undershoots the truth by a long way.
I had some fun on the twitz with my purchase…
… but cracking it open for a quick read over lunch yesterday… hoo boy.
The writing is sharp. I don’t know if she does her literary work in the same, droll, discoursive voice, but I was instantly drawn in. It’s like having her sit down with you for a couple of drinks and a long talk. And maybe a cheeky spliff, to lighten the mood. The polished spoken-word vibe of it reminded me a lot of… well, Felafel.
The content too.
I was 19 and my parents had become distant and peculiar to me. I scoured the ads and moved into a share house: a bungalow with a tree in the front garden and a bay window. My housemates were three dudes in their 20s who liked to party. I feel ancient saying it like that, but they did.
"Do you do drugs?" they asked when they interviewed me, their eyes narrowed. I wasn't sure which answer they wanted. "Yes?" I said, in a way that could become, "No?”
This feels very familiar. The delivery is more refined than Felafel. Less frantic, and off-the-leash. But that all comes soon enough when they fire up the bongs.
And there, our two roads diverge in the woods. Down one path lay more bongs and good times and a legion of 20-something dudes and wonderbabes who all loved to party. I took that one and wrote a book about it. Down Anna’s less-travelled road – mental illness, chaos and, well, I guess all the stuff in this book.
And yet, she’s such a good writer that it’s just as easy to read as Felafel. Just as entertaining. Worth more, though, if I’m being honest. I’m going to dose this one out in small reading sessions, probably over lunch. It feels like it would repay the attention.
I hope she does well from it.
If you’re interested, you can grab a copy here at Booktopia. Here at the Beast of Bezos. Or you could take a stroll to your nearest booke shoppe. A walk is always nice.
JB, your comment made the from page of Anna’s website very quickly.
“I WANTED TO SEE JUST HOW GOOD A WRITER SHE REALLY IS. I SUSPECTED THE ANSWER MIGHT BE ‘PRETTY FUCKING GOOD’, BUT MAN, THAT UNDERSHOOTS THE TRUTH BY A LONG WAY.”
– John Birmingham, author of He Died With a Falafel in His Hand and many other good things
Anna narrated the audio book, so I would imagine hearing her own words in her voice would be exactly like that long talk over drinks, if anyone is after the audio version 😊
Damn it! Now I have another book to add to my Wish List™!
I might have to get this. Book recommendations from this quarter rarely disappoint. I followed Anna back in the old twitter days and always found her quite open and honest.