Title: Man of Letters
Author: Spike Milligan
Page Count/Review Word Count: 390
This is an interesting example of a book that I’d put off for a while thinking of it was a bedtime book, but then when I picked it up, I whizzed through it. I guess it’s because I’m used to reading things like Allen Ginsberg’s letters, which are bonkers and cover lots of heavy political subjects, and then I picked this one up and it’s full of Milligan having a go at politicians for permitting trees to be torn down.
I also like the story behind this, which is basically that Milligan allowed his secretary to create collections of his letters for publication every time she was a little short on cash on the condition that he didn’t have to see them until after they’d been published. It seems like a pretty good way of working.
In terms of how interested I was in the subject matter, this was actually pretty high up there, and surprisingly so for a collection of letters. That’s because Spike suffered from bipolar disorder and had his fair share of interactions with fellow sufferers where he shared some of his advice on coming to terms with the condition. He was also passionate about animal rights.
And then there’s some of the other stuff, such as when he had a go at Margaret Thatcher because she was too busy being prime minister to care about her constituents, of which he was one. In typical Iron Lady fashion, she didn’t give a straight answer, which seemed to irritate him no end.
All in all then, it was a pretty interesting little read and I imagine the same would hold true whether you’re a Milligan fan or not. It’s just an interesting snapshot into a person’s mind, but in a much more relatable way than I’ve seen from other letter collections, which let’s face it are generally only of interest to academics. This one felt much more approachable to a general reader, and even then it was just okay.
And so there you have it, that’s what I made of Man of Letters. It wasn’t great, it wasn’t terrible. I don’t know if I’d recommend it to anyone who wasn’t already a Spike Milligan fan, though.