Cosmo Landesman - Starstruck (3 stars)

Cosmo Landesman - Starstruck



Fran and Jay Landesman sound like a tough set of parents. She a poet and jazz singer, he a producer and comedian. Together they fled the US due to a perceived lack of success, viewing Swinging 60s London as a kinder, less competitive atmosphere for their muses to flourish. But still the rejection letters and mixed critical reactions flooded in, all the while injecting their boy Cosmo with a sense of worth lower than that of a dying wasp. Landesman Jr would eventually get hitched to Julie Burchill, whose encouragement of his career was at best idiosyncratic, though she did allow him to write film reviews under her name having grown tired of sitting in dark cinemas with ‘smelly old men’.

He may have lived most of his life in the UK, but Landesman has that peculiarly irritating way of discussing ‘England’ when he actually means ‘Britain’; perhaps this celtic blind spot explains why he recalls Tommy Steele being knocked unconscious by screaming fans at Dundee’s ‘Laird’ Hall. Or it could just be the kind of typo which this book is riddled with: while you can understand a misspelling of Haysi Fantayzee, is Alan Davies really that difficult a name to double check? One theory is that getting Starstruck published was a rush job. Yet, with its mix of forensic and often very funny detailing of self-obsession amid the cultural context into which the family’s failures was placed, there appears to be no obvious reason for this book to be hitting the shops right now. Then again, the movie of his mate Toby Young’s memoir has just come out. Such coat-tail hanging activity would be frowned upon even by Cosmo’s publicity-ravenous old man.

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