Honestly I find this cover scary and have to keep it turned over so I’m not confronted with Bob Mortimer’s face all the time, but I do think it sums up his wacky charm, as well as the dark undercurrent in his work. And Away… is a celebrity comedian memoir, but one by a very smart and thoughtful man, and it has a depth of feeling to it that other memoirs under the celebrity umbrella can lack. I think it helps that this wasn’t ghostwritten and he’s very honest about his thoughts and experiences.
The two pivotal events of the memoir are his father dying in a car crash when Bob was seven, and the heart condition he gets diagnosed with when he’s fifty-six. Both shatter his life and his conception of himself, and his descriptions of how he coped with the events are interesting and moving. The primary feeling I got from this book was sadness — sadness about death and loss, but also my sadness for how little Bob thinks of himself throughout and his loneliness. He is an interesting comedian because he came into it basically accidentally while doing a normal career as a lawyer. He has an outsider point of view in almost every aspect, and combined with his self-doubt it does make for a lonely narrative. Which is not to say that this is a depressing book! His recovery from his heart surgery brings with it an unexpected rebirth and rediscovery of the self, and the last sections of the book are especially moving as he finds his own authentic voice and realizes that he has worth and value to contribute. Also, he’s very funny, so there are lots of humorous anecdotes and the book is not a grim slog.
All in all, definitely recommended, even if you aren’t familiar with his work. I have never watched anything but his Taskmaster and Would I Lie to You appearances and this was very readable.
With this I think I’ve done a blackout of my Bingo square! I’m happy to have completed that goal and continued my wider goal for the year of doing personal writing for the first time in years. It’s been very fulfilling to put some thoughts into the world and not keep them all trapped in my head. I will try to keep following Bob’s advice:
“If you are a shy one, then please try not to settle for living in your isolation cage. Take every opportunity a stranger or colleague or associate may offer and run with it to the moon. There is no reason to be scared of people or believe what you have to contribute is worthless. People are generally nice and most of them are extremely boring most of the time. Take a chance, get involved and slowly the cage will open.”