Starstruck: Fame, Failure, My Family and Me by Cosmo Landesman
|Starstruck: Fame, Failure, My Family and Me by Cosmo Landesman|
|Reviewer: Chris Bradshaw|
|Summary: If you thought your parents were embarrassing wait until you read this.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 355||Date: October 2008|
It is the prerogative of parents to embarrass their children. Whether it's the odd inopportune comment, some crazy dad dancing at a wedding or just generally trying to be down with the kids, many a parent has proved something of a burden to a shy teenage child. If this sounds like your childhood, prepare to wince and smile in equal measure while reading Cosmo Landesman's 'Starstruck'.
You've probably never heard of Jay Landesman. That isn't for his lack of trying though. After moving from sleepy St Louis to the creative playground that was 1960s swinging London, Jay and wife Fran (a performance poet and lyricist) were at the forefront of a seemingly endless quest for fortune, acclaim and more importantly fame. Whether it was Dracula The Musical, a joke free stand up comedy routine, the proponents of the benefits of a macrobiotic diet or avant garde publishing Jay and Fran were always just one big project away from the big time.
Cowering in the background while all this shameless self promotion was taking place was son Cosmo, desperate for normal and respectable parents. The final insult was the revelation that Jay and Fran had a famously open marriage. It's one thing to find out about it in the privacy of the family home. To hear all about it on Radio 4 and The Daily Express is something else entirely.
Landesman amusingly chronicles the insane search for fame which engulfed his parents (and to a lesser extent brother Miles, a member of any number of failed rock bands) and details how it affected his own search for success and respect. While Cosmo was pursuing his own journalistic career (he founded The Modern Review with Toby Young and then wife Julie Burchill), Jay was touting Landesman The Autobiography, Landesmania The Musical and even Landesman The Museum. That Cosmo fashions a successful career and a stable family for himself (he is the film critic for The Sunday Times) is all the more impressive given the endless distractions from his parents.
Intertwined amongst the eccentric family history is a very interesting critique of fame and celebrity in the 20th century. He chronicles how Britain went from the land of the stiff upper lip and respectability to the I'll do anything to get on TV era of today. We follow the likes of blonde bombshell Sylvia in the 1950s, the glam rockers of the 1970s, through to Diana, Liz Hurley and the X-Factor and Big Brother wannabes of today. He has some interesting ideas about fame, class and the dominance of celebrity culture, even in the supposed bastions of high culture.
The heartening thing about Starstruck is that despite the cringey, Curb Your Enthusiasm-like moments, Cosmo does still obviously love and care for his parents. As he says himself, Jay and Fran are just a pair of unruly children. Whether that is something to aspire to is debatable. Whatever the rights and wrongs of their quest for status, it has provided some very good material for what is often a very amusing book.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
If this book appeals then we think you might also enjoy Black Vinyl, White Powder by Simon Napier-Bell.
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You can read more book reviews or buy Starstruck: Fame, Failure, My Family and Me by Cosmo Landesman at Amazon.com.
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