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Fingers in the Sparkle Jar: Chris Packham's autobiography (1 Viewer)

John Cantelo

Well-known member
Chris Packham's autobiography certainly sounds like it's going to be a cut above the average if Mark Avery's review (see -http://markavery.info/2016/04/17/sunday-book-review-fingers-sparkle-jar-chris-packham/#comment-1059328) is anything to go by. It sounds like it'll be both searingly honest and thought provoking. No big surprise there then. I'm sure his detractors will cheerfully mine it for anything the can attack him with, but online previews are hinting that it may well become a classic, let's hope so. My fascination is further increased by the fact that we grew up 2-3 miles and a decade apart, but explored many of the same areas as kids.
 

JTweedie

Well-known member
I bought this last week, just got to finish off a couple of other books before I get started on this. There's an article in this month's BBC Wildlife magazine about Packham, as well as a very short review of the book.
 

John Cantelo

Well-known member
Well, it's one 'celebrity autobiography' that wasn't ghost written that's for sure. As I suggested I found it searingly honest and thought provoking. As predicted his detractors have used his revelations to attack him, but that seems to have spectacularly backfired. In places, the writing is quite lyrical and beautifully done. I felt that if his life had taken a different turn he could certainly have become a professional novelist/writer rather than scientist/naturalist/presenter. He may do so yet. However, personally, I found the style a little too uneven and disjointed; perhaps he needed a stronger editor. I also felt that the switching between place and time didn't always work. I'm tempted to re-read it only doing so with all the short chapters in chronological order. It has something of the feel of "Strange Incident of the Dog in the Night" meets autobiography. What he communicated wonderfully well was how an exceptionally bright boy can be failed and frustrated by an inflexible education system. That he triumphed is to his huge credit (and one suspects his old Science teacher). As I type, to my surprise, I have the feeling that it could make a terrific 'coming of age' film! A fascinating read. Recommended. I hope he writes a second volume.
 

Debbie1905

Well-known member
I just finished reading this today. Being a similar age, I found his description of being a child in the 1960s and 70s so evocative and well-remembered - it took me back, made me laugh and cry. I liked the skipping about in time, it's a wander through childhood memories that we don't usually do in chronological order anyway. I thought the prose was beautiful, sharp and 'sparkly', and the later chapters were a privilege to read. I've never felt the need to comment in public on a book before, but I am truly touched in so many ways by this book. I too hope for more, and I think it would make a wonderful dramatization too.
 

JTweedie

Well-known member
I finished this today. Not quite what I expected, but very pleasantly surprised by it. I wasn't too concerned about the structure of it. Having recently watched Kes parts of the book reminded me of that (if that's not too obvious). Writing from different perspectives made for an unconventional read. I really liked his description of going to see The Clash, very evocative of what must have been a defining moment of his life.
 

John Cantelo

Well-known member
Perhaps, seeing I'm alone in not liking the structure, this merely reflects that I taught history and so am too wedded to conventional chronological order! It's certainly one of those rare books that seems to get better the more you reflect on it.
 

moose1991

Alces alces
Borrowed it from the local library last week, I thought it might be full of humorous anecdotes, it wasn't, it was quite a sad book to read.
I'll look at him in a different light next time he's on the TV.
 
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