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Anything Goes by John Barrowman

My love affair with John Barrowman sort of started accidentally. I watched the first series of Torchwood and thought he was hot but didn't know much about him at all, until a LiveJournal friend started providing music, pictures, and all sorts of other John Barrowman goodies to the general population of her friends' list. He was everything I liked in a man, I suppose: sang, acted, Scottish, gay. As a bonus, he spent part of his life growing up in Illinois, my home state, and it seemed like destiny that I would at least mildly obsess about him as an actor.

Autobiographies are not a favorite of mine, mostly because I sometimes find their authors (and I suppose, by extension, the people who live the stories) to be bland and uninteresting. There's a certain power of personality that needs to be behind the words, and it was for that reason I was willing to give Barrowman's autobiography a try. Barrowman is funny, a bit raunchy, and has a thousand great stories, and I hoped that the roughly chronological telling of his life-so-far (he's not yet forty) would keep me entertained.

I read the book in about six hours, total, of sitting time.

One of the things I like about the biography is the earnestness with which John tells all his stories. It's strange, because sometimes in interviews he comes off as disingenuous and a bit plastic, but there's a sort of honesty in some of the moments he describes. Most of the stories are tongue-in-cheek and outrageously funny, but there are other situations he describes - the death of his friend Midge, most notably - that really show the true nature of the man on the screen; he's a bit geeky, incredibly fond of his family and friends, and, as he self-describes, has "a lot of love to give." Is it possible that some of his tales are inflated? Certainly. But despite that, he shares them so fluidly and with so little shame that you have to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Frankly, the stories I loved most involved his family and friends and less his career. He's the leading man in his own words that he seems to be on screen, but sharing tales of kayaking in a volcano's crater, trying to trace the Donner Party's famous path in a snow storm, camping with his niece and nephew, and having sex in Cameron Macintosh's garden are far more poignant. He doesn't dwell too much on how he feels about his family, in part because every story proves it. He's a fantastic storyteller, and even if he more-or-less admits to having voice-recorded the book and his sister, Carole, then transposing it, the fact remains that every page is filled with John's flair and humor, and that, unlike so many other autobiographies, is what makes it fun.

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buecherwald
the forest-dweller

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