Book 56 – Chris Moyles: The Difficult Second Book

Book – Chris Moyles: The Difficult Second Book
Author – Chris Moyles
Year – 2007
Genre – Autobiography

Not every book that I am going to read this year and like is going to be a literary classic.  For all of your The Great Gatsbys and Of Mice And Mens, there will be some books that I enjoy that, in all honesty, are pretty rubbish.  Enter Chris Moyles.

I am a massive fan of Moyles, and have been listening to his Radio 1 show on and off for the past eight years.  Every afternoon in my first year at university, every morning on my way to work, and now on podcast when it is released each Friday.  Surrounded by his team, I have always found Chris Moyles to be very funny, and hugely likable.

I read his first autobiography a few years back, and thoroughly enjoyed hearing about how radio is his life’s passion, and how he worked his way up to one of the most prominant spots in British radio.  The Difficult Second Book takes somewhat less of a narrative arc, and talks us through Moyles’ times at the Brits, alegations of homophobia and racism and his losing weight.

The first thing that made me think that this was actually a pretty big load of rubbish is the layout.  Every half page or so Moyles has something to say that he wants to emphasise.  He does this by doing it all in bold, capitals, on a line by itself and in a font size a couple larger than the rest of the writing.  He is effectively bellowing at you every few pages.

The next is the legitimately banal content of some of the stories.  In a chapter talking about the pub, he speaks of his friend Kevin who is a bit of a pub bore.  That is the whole story, yet it still takes up almost a page.  You are left thinking that the whole section was building up to a punchline which was never delivered, and ultimately that some sections are genuinely no better than an autobiographical account you could write yourself.

There are some interesting stories in there as well – the ones involving Chris Evans and Comic Relief spring to mind – but it is only once you get to the chapter about writing the book itself that you really warm to the concept.  Moyles talks about how he hates the idea of using a ghostwriter, and that even if it is to the detriment to the book he would rather have a bad autobiography that is actually by him, than a book not actually by him but with his name on the front.  It is hard to disagree with this – especially when, as I do, you try and avoid ghostwritten autobiographies – and coupled with how much I already like Chris Moyles, makes this a perfectly enjoyable read.

It is impossible for me to finish this review without mentioning this brilliant clip by Stewart Lee.  When we went to Edinburgh a couple of years back we saw Lee do this sketch with regards to The Difficult Second Book and it was included last year on the television  programme Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle.  Stewart Lee is one of the best stand ups around, so definitely worth a look.


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