Peter O'Toole: Hellraiser, Sexual Outlaw, Irish Rebel (Blood Moon's Babylon Series)

Peter O'Toole: Hellraiser, Sexual Outlaw, Irish Rebel (Blood Moon's Babylon Series) - Darwin Porter, Danforth Prince This book got its second star only because I'm a completist for all things O'Toole and T.E. Lawrence. When I ordered it I knew full well from the title it wouldn't be "the" biography - I sure hope that's being written out there somewhere with the assistance of his surviving family and friends. This is the gossipy-dude version of O'Toole's life, with emphasis on the alcohol, the outrageous public behaviour, and the sex life. There is no apparent understanding of the nature or effect of his acting, nor any interest in relating his role choices and acting choices to the events of his life. The book is large and heavy, but its production values are not top-notch by any stretch; the illustrations are small, in-text, black and white reproductions, and there are blaring, space-wasting headlines throughout. Most of all, the text is largely made up of that most objectionable tabloid habit of made up "reported speech", presenting the author's speculation about what may have been said at a particular event or meeting as if it were a true transcript. It undermines any lingering inclination the reader may have to put faith in the accuracy of the text.

As to sources, there is of course none of the apparatus of more reputable biographies: notes, bibliography, not even an acknowledgment page for major interview sources. However, based on the tone and the subjects covered, my best guess is that a very large number of the more salacious anecdotes and personality assessments of O'Toole's inner circle came from his long-time associate Kenneth Griffith, who is referenced a few times. However, Porter appears to have approached most of O'Toole's surviving associates (especially the male ones - the female voice is decidedly underrepresented) and they have trotted out their favourite O'Toole stories for him.

There's probably more than a grain of truth in most of those stories, but it's hard to know exactly where it is, and it's certainly hard to be sure that the overall picture of the man that emerges is one that anyone who actually knew him would recognize.

As I said, I'm a completist.