“I, Partridge: We Need To Talk About Alan” Book Review

The cheery demeanor hid a dark past

Hero? Villain? Radio host? (Clue: It’s the last one)

“What’s made me different from the others? How – and these were pretty much the exact words, even at the age of eight – did I come to be born with this aura of otherness, this je ne sais quoi?

I stood and looked at the tree, and thoughts tumbled around my head like trainers in a washing machine. What made me thus? What made me thus? What made me thus?”

Alan Partridge. Radio personality. Lover of scotch eggs. Man of the people; And now, writer? It would appear so.

Well, actually, no. “I, Partridge: We Need To Talk About Alan” is a work of fiction created by the combined intellects of Rob Gibbons, Neil Gibbons, Armando Iannucci and Steve Coogan, detailing the loves and losses of popular TV character Alan Partridge. Don’t get me wrong – It’s much more fun to read this book if you fool yourself into thinking that it was written by Partridge himself, perhaps in the den of his cosy home, sucking one or two Murray Mints (Probably two, as he has a rather powerful suck). In all seriousness, “I, Partridge” is such a committed and consistant piece of comedy writing that you could not be blamed for suspending all disbelief and becoming absorbed in Alan’s hilarious, and faintly ridiculous, life so far.

The sheer number of years that Coogan has been portraying Partridge comes across loud and clear in this “faux-tobiography”, as throughout the book Alan’s  literary “voice”, so different to Coogan’s own writing style, is beautifully and clearly presented to the reader and remains so without faultering through all 320 side-splitting pages.

Apart from the technical brilliance, as an example of comedic writing, “I, Partridge” is genre breaking. The book itself is purposefully quite poorly written; Alan is not a natural writer, and yet this somehow makes the book even better. Partridge’s lack of literary prowess gives way to glorious, if non-sensical, similes such as “I opened it (an envelope) as gingerly as a rookie bomb disposal operative would open a fat letter bomb in a creche.”. Does it make sense? Very little. Why would somebody send a letter bomb to a creche? Why would the bomb disposal operative not remove the envelope and open it somewhere else? Why wouldn’t somebody remove the children from the creche before the letter was opened? In fact, why would the bomb disposal squad send in someone with such little experience to do such an important job? All these criticisms aside, the sheer “WTF” factor of this simile is what makes it great, and Partridge-esque at it’s very core.

I suppose in order to keep up my stellar reputation of five star book reviewer and all round literary expert (Oh, you didn’t know I was these things? Well, now you know. Spread the word), I should give this autobiography a 0/5 thumbs up. It’s hyperbolic, poorly written and at some points downright insulting. Every second spent reading this car-crash of a book is a second wasted, where you could instead be reading “War and Peace” or “Atlus Shrugged”.

Then again, i’m pretty sure that you wouldn’t find gems such as “Why my parents never had more kids I don’t know… Maybe i’d bust Mum’s cervix. Maybe Dad had just perfected the withdrawal medthod” in “Jane Eyre”.

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