My Shit Life So Far by Frankie Boyle (4 stars)

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My Shit Life So Far by Frankie Boyle

Apparently, Glasgow’s cherished cheeky-man Francis Boyle showed a talent for ‘the offensive non-sequitur’ from a young age. At school, he was the nerdy, fantasy-novel reading smartarse making people laugh so hard they spat their drinks out. His autobiography, My Shit Life So Far, showcases that cruel and unusual comedy that’s become his trademark, and should probably be enjoyed far away from hot liquids.

Dryly nostalgic anecdotes about the Mock the Week star’s Catholic upbringing in Pollokshaws (which he lovingly describes as ‘a slap in the face to childhood’), writing comedy on ecstasy, and his stint working in a mental asylum are blended with syringe-sharp views on topics like global warming and homophobia. The taekwondo fan also pulls no punches when he gets stuck into Scottish culture’s low points. Scotland is obviously a place he holds dear, but sometimes Boyle likes to twist it into an affectionate head lock: ‘A recent survey revealed that one in ten Scots are on anti-depressants, which begs the question, what have the other nine got to be so happy about?’

As with his stand-up, Boyle cleverly keeps the emphasis on being funny, rather than likeable. It means that certain areas of his private life are fast-forwarded to make more room for the funny stuff (his partner and two kids, for example, seem to be magicked out of a hat). A failed marriage and drink and drug addictions are also glossed over in favour of dystopian rants, steering his writing away from self-indulgence or back-patting towards something altogether more bizarre, intelligent and abusively hilarious.

(HarperCollins)

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