Celebrity memoirs certainly reflect their authors, and two very differing personalities emerge from the Joan Collins diaries and Billy Connolly's autobiography.
Joan Collins was born in 1933 but doesn't reveal that date in My Unapologetic Diaries (Weidenfeld and Nicolson. Buy it now): "Well you can't expect an actress ("I don't ever refer to myself as an actor") to divulge something as sensitive as her age, can you?"
Collins, five times married, has written several autobiographies. Her present book consists of nearly 400 pages of transcriptions of taped nightly diaries between 1989 and 2007.
In 1989, Collins was basking in the fame from her role as the backstabbing Alexis Carrington Colby in the long-running TV soap opera Dynasty, which was just coming to an end.
She hoped for a secure financial future, "lived on lovely residuals", from the series, but Dynasty management soon closed that option.
Collins turned instead to a $4 million book deal with Random House, with a US$1.2 million advance. After Collins delivered the first manuscript, Random House claimed it was "unreadable" and sued for a return of the advance.
After much legal to and fro, Collins was eventually awarded US$1 million from "those bastards", Random House, in a 1996 court settlement.
Her resentment towards publishers is reflected throughout the diaries. Her 1996 Australian book tour with Harper Collins certainly confirms her diva status.
After "working her ass off" in Melbourne, she undertook a signing at Myer, but her crowd was smaller than for Priscilla Presley, who was launching a perfume.
Collins bitterly complained at the media which highlighted the numbers and "that I acted like a stuck up bitch...What am I doing this for?...It is really a drag".
This is not a book to read in one sitting but rather to dip into, perhaps with a drink in hand, to relish the unapologetic character vignettes derived from the many parties, film premieres and "highly exhilarating" shopping expeditions.
Boris Johnson "looks like he brushes his hair with an eggbeater"; Faye Dunaway's "ass looks like it's been sliced off with a bacon slicer"; Catherine Deneuve is "stuck up"; Frank Sinatra is now "a befuddled old man", and Bill Cosby is "as funny as a funeral".
Collins reserves quite a lot of harsh words for old Etonian Robin Hurlstone, her then-boyfriend.
When she is awarded her OBE, Hurlstone says, "I'm not going to Buck House with you just to get a silly little OBE. Maybe if it were a damehood".
In fact, Collins becomes a Dame in 2015, when she is happily married to her long-term fifth husband Percy Gibson.
Collins has achieved a great deal in her life and career, and it's a pity that the diaries, encased in time, come across in the bitchy style of the Colby character.
Collins says, however, in her epilogue, "I'm not one for regrets... After 70 years as an actress and still working I think I'm entitled to blow my own horn".
Billy (Sir William) Connolly has written a more life-affirming and interesting book, which at the time of writing this review was selling 20,000 hardback copies a week in Britain.
Windswept and Interesting (Two Roads. Buy it now.) is his first autobiography, written at the age of 78, although there have been two bestselling books about him by his wife, Pamela Stephenson.
Connolly has suffered from Parkinson's disease since 2013, "and I wish he'd f***ing kept it to himself|".
As a result, Connolly dictated the book into a transcription app that struggled with his Scottish accent, but the edited end result is far more structured than Collins' repetitive nightly outbursts.
Connolly, born in 1942, had an extremely difficult upbringing in Glasgow.
His mother left the family home when he was four, leaving him in the care of his Auntie Mona: "She'd smack me in the face so my nose bled. kicked me, battered my head with her high-heeled shoes. But her specialty was humiliation".
This, in addition to a father who sexually abused him between the ages of 10 and 14.
As a result "I thought a lot about drowning myself in the Clyde".
Like many before him in the 1950s, public libraries filled an educational void. Connolly writes, "Everything I achieved in life came from Partick Library ".
Leaving school at 15, he developed comedy as a shield, learning "genuinely not give a f*** for what any other living human being thinks of you".
After working as a welder in the Glasgow docks and in the Territorial Army, Connolly entered a musical partnership with Gerry Rafferty, before becoming "a rock 'n' roll comedian", and a lifestyle which involved heavy drinking.
His marriage to Pamela Stephenson came with the proviso that he renounced drinking, which he did in December 1985. The rest, as they say, is history.
Now in 2021, Connolly, "a welder statesman", says: "I've got no complaints. I feel happy just as I'm about to go to sleep ... I've always imagined that would be the feeling you get before you die".
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