What’s It All About?

Michale Caine - What's It All About?

This is the autobiography of the actor behind the famous face of the original Alfie. Actually, he’s done more than his fair share of movies, shows and plays. IMDB lists it all and so far it comes up to 361! Not bad for someone whose career only took off at the age of 33.

His autobiography was, in his words, “To set the record straight on my own record player for a change”; and he certainly has. He spins many entertaining stories of his life and is fascinating to the point of incredulous. Quirky stories with well timed punch lines are his thing such as the reason he hates the smell of garlic, why John Lennon called himself Joe Lemon, and which animal apparently portrays Marilyn Monroe.

As this is a book in his defence, I suppose it’s not altogether surprising when he paints himself in the best way possible but this is not to say that he doesn’t find the time to poke fun at himself. There are many stories which will tickle you pink at his expense, as well as other famous people. Then again, he reveals some very deep and personal things about himself and his family which makes the book more than just a stand-up piece.

Caine is, in fact, a terrific writer. He has flow, wit, legibility and the ability to end a story when it needs ending. His book holds many gems from acting tips to what goes on behind the scenes during shooting to how agencies work in Hollywood. Moreover, you also learn about the origin of names, eras, cultural references and a chance to see a more personal side of many famous people such as Woody Allen, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Margaret Thatcher and even the Queen of England! Our beloved Sydney Harbour Bridge also manages a cameo, alluding to just how many countries he references.

‘What’s It All About’ is definitely worth a read, especially if you’re an aspiring actor. Caine will charm and inspire you whilst keeping you guffawing at his antics until you cannot but walk away with admiration for this determined man’s gumption and devotion to all the things that he holds dear.

Readability: 5/5

Keepability: 4/5

p.s. incidently, Caine has released in Sept 2010 a memoir titled, “The Elephant to Hollywood”.


That’s what he said

“He charged the ranks of the goblins of Mount Gram in the Battle of the Green Fields, and knocked their king Golfimbul’s head clean off with a wooden club. It sailed a hundred yards through the air and went down a rabbit hole, and in this way the battle was won and the game of Golf invented at the same moment.”

The Hobbit :: JRR Tolkein


– ant –

A Taste For Green Tangerines – Barbara Bisco

A Saucy Romp through the Rainforest

This book is subtitled ‘A Saucy Romp through the Rainforest’. On first glance I thought it was about food adventures in a rainforest; a revelation about using local plants, herbs and possibly insects as part of a meal interwoven with the usual drama that came along with a fictional novel. After reading the book, however, it became clear to me that ‘saucy’ was just a politically correct way of saying ‘raunchy’.

It depicts the adventures of an English anthropologist accepting her first real job studying the Dayak people over in the rainforests of Borneo with a rainforest conservation company. While the sauciness of her story is rife yet tastefully unremarkable, notable points of this book lie in the rich descriptions of the Dayak culture and its capacity to make you think about the pros and cons of mining and logging; and the socio economic versus conservation impacts of the two. This book is also unashamedly anti-government, probably with the aim of raising awareness of the amount of corruption going on in Indonesia particularly within the conservation (or lack thereof) context. However, having said that, Bisco also gives us insight into how locals might view this laxity in laws and why they might not be as supportive of conversation as some of us.

I can’t believe I’ve made the book sound like an essay on culture and conservation. It really isn’t. Most of it is about the anthropologist and her friends, a mystery at the campsite, lots of drama, lots of sauce and enough character development to keep you interested.

I’m not one to give the storyline away while writing a review. I hate reading the synopsis of a movie before I watch it – it’s too much like reading notes of the Great Gatsby at English class and writing an entire essay of it without having actually read the book. So I’m going to just rate the readability and other such aspects of the book and leave it at that.

Readability: 3/5

I’d read this over sleeping on a train (* * * )
Good for sitting on the loo (* * * *)
Something to read to help you fall asleep (* * *)
It’s like trying to read foreign language signs when you’re busting to go to the bathroom (*)

Thinkability: 4/5
Keepability: 1/5

– ant –