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BOOK REVIEW: Who Am I, Again? By Lenny Henry

| 7 December 2019 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: Who Am I, Again? By Lenny Henry

Allen & Unwin
November 2019
Paperback, $32.99
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar


British comedian Lenny Henry doesn’t manage to answer his own titular question in this first volume of his memoirs.

Full of insecurities and self-confessional in nature – as any honest telling of our formative years would likely be – Henry talks at length about his upbringing in a large, immigrant family full of love and violence (he recalls being punched and hit by a variety of kitchen implements including a frypan, by his mother), about the sickening racism that abounded in every facet of British society in the ‘70s, and about his early attempts at stand-up comedy.

These formative forays into show biz were, he confesses, mostly impressions, routines gleaned from watching others, in some cases even nicking pieces of other comics’ acts. He wonders constantly if he is good enough, and admits that often he wasn’t.

He came good, though, as we know, but there’s meat lacking in his story – one can’t help but wonder if he should have written about his whole life and not just his early days. This story concludes just as he is breaking through, and it feels a little padded. Henry talks of two more volumes to follow, and we can’t help but wonder… why?

That’s not to say Who Am I, Again? isn’t interesting or entertaining. It is. It would just benefit from a bit more meat on the bone, and we’re left with the distinct impression that maybe Lenny Henry is still unsure of himself, still making excuses for what he perceives as his lack of talent. Despite this, Volume Two will be interesting, covering the ‘80s and the anarchic new wave of British comedy. I’ll be tuning in.

Category: Book Reviews

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