Author: Jack Rosenthal
Details: (c) 2005 Jack Rosenthal; Pub 2005 Robson Books; ISBN 1-86105-960-4
Verdict: By Jack Rosenthal is a decent autobiography.
Reasons for reading it: I'm running out of books a bit at the moment, so I asked the parents what they've been reading recently and they mentioned this, which Dad presented at their Jewish book discussion group.
How it came into my hands: The parents lent me their copy to read on the journey home.
The thing about Jack Rosenthal is that I think of him as mainly being famous for being married to Maureen Lipman. That's a bit unfair, because I think he was quite well-known in his own right in the showbiz world. But I'm not exactly a fan, and I skimmed the sections where he was doing the standard showbiz autobiography stuff, name dropping about people I don't care about or bitching about how he was screwed over by various bits of the industry. That said, he is definitely a witty writer and his "screenplay" is highly readable.
For me, the most interesting parts were the opening chapter, where he talks about his grandparents' experiences as Jewish immigrants barely scraping by in Manchester and his own experiences growing up before he became famous, and the final chapter added by Lipman recounting his final illness and her widowhood. I'm generally interested in reading about the early life of celebrities, because I like growing up stories in general, and because an account of how someone overcame obstacles and made it to the big time is usually more of a story than what happens when their fame and success gives them its own momentum. I don't particularly seek out cancer stories, of which goodness knows there are plenty, but Lipman is a very good writer. Her short chapter is a love letter, moving without being sentimental.
She mentions in passing that when Jack's condition degenerated they tried a new, experimental drug, but it was too late. Just one throwaway sentence, but that particular drug is one I was working on directly at the time.