Nasty, Simon Doonan:
This may be the best memoir I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. Set in post-WWII Britain, Simon is a poor kid growing up gay in England. The entire book is about the challenges he faced, from the threat of schizophrenia running in the family to how to navigate the world when almost completely broke, to alcoholism in various forms.
What makes this book so remarkable though is that Doonan doesn’t shy away from any of the “nastier” aspects of his life. Every gross detail is there, in ways that are a little shocking to an American reader (since we’re used to someone coddling us and hiding the gross stuff away). It creates a sense of honestly that flows throughout the entire story; not just a retelling of events but a bearing of the soul. In a hilarious and campy way.
There are a lot of really serious issues that Doonan had to deal with; poverty, alcoholism, mental illness, coming out, and death. But all these issues are handled with amazing levity. So while part of you is cringing for what he went through, the other part is laughing hysterically at the description of the rats in the apartment. Overall it’s a Cinderella story; from rags to fabulous.