||Frank Skinner is well known for his quick wit and biting humour. Both appear in spades in his eponymous autobiography. It is hardly a traditional, chronological work. Instead Frank, (or to give him his childhood name, Chris Collins) takes an offbeat approach to the life story genre. It is an approach which, on the whole, works well. Here, the writer takes an intimately personal tack. Like the man in the pub with tales to tell, the story jumps from childhood to middle age, failed romances to huge successes, with little or no pause to explain or sign post. In the opening chapters this organisation can be confusing. From a lesser writer, it would have been a mistake. For Frank Skinner, whose ability to relate to an audience is everything, it is a clever device to draw the reader in. In fact, this on the hoof, deadline-looming, almost stand-up style of thinking on the feet (or indeed, the page) makes the reader a confidante. Frank chats and asks questions. Pages fly past amid a string of intriguing hook lines, such as "Johnny Cash made me an alcoholic"; "English literature changed my life"; "Zola Budd was my saviour and spiritual guide"; and "My first ever professional show was as Julian Clary¹s straight man (leave it)".
In reality, Frank Skinner's factual life isn't that remarkable, but the quality of the writing lifts it way above its competitors. Besides the history told comes the most interesting, insightful stuff, wrapped up in stylish telling; reasons and justifications, irrelevant asides and rhetorical questions, insecurities and studied nonchalance, plus a grey area where there are a of loads of swear words, darker thoughts, deep hatred of journalists from The Sun and of course the blackest of humour. --Helen Lamont