It's 12 October 1984. An IRA bomb blows apart the Grand Hotel in Brighton. Miraculously, Margaret Thatcher survives. In small-town Scotland, eight-year-old Damian Barr watches in horror as his mum rips her wedding ring off and packs their bags. He knows he, too, must survive. Damian, his sister and his Catholic mum move in with her sinister new boyfriend while his Protestant dad shacks up with the glamorous Mary the Canary. Divided by sectarian suspicion, the community is held together by the sprawling Ravenscraig Steelworks. But darkness threatens as Maggie takes hold: she snatches school milk, smashes the unions and makes greed good. Following Maggie's advice, Damian works hard and plans his escape. He discovers that stories can save your life and - in spite of violence, strikes, AIDS and Clause 28 - manages to fall in love dancing to Madonna in Glasgow's only gay club. Maggie & Me is a touching and darkly witty memoir about surviving Thatcher's Britain; a story of growing up gay in a straight world and coming out the other side in spite of, and maybe because of, the iron lady.
A unique, tender and witty memoir of surviving the tough streets of small town Scotland during the Margaret Thatcher years
Shocking and funny in equal measure, and will have you weeping with laughter and sorrow -- Katy Guest Independent on Sunday The wonderful story of a remarkable man, Maggie & Me is heartbreaking and heartwarming. As gripping as a thriller, laugh-out-loud funny and deeply touching, this book will resonate long after you finish it. A triumph SJ Watson, author of Before I Go to Sleep Out of poverty, brutality and prejudice, Damian Barr builds something riveting, touching and painfully funny. His account of growing up under Thatcher's regime defines the experience of a generation. At once personal and universal, Maggie & Me is a work of stealthy genius Maggie O'Farrell A marvellous memoir - wrenching, funny and wise. I loved it! Joanne Harris This amazing book tells the story of an appalling childhood with truth and clarity unsmudged by self-pity. It grips from beginning to end and leaves the reader elated at the fact that such experiences can be overcome and produce a man who can write a book so vivid, so unsentimentally forgiving, and so memorable Diana Athill This book will break your heart and make you angry; then it will lift your heart and make you glad; because Damian Barr has transmuted a grim childhood into a work of art and brought forth beauty from ashes Richard Holloway That Damian Barr survived his childhood is testament to his startling courage and determination.That he was then able to write about the experience with such wit, verve and candour is equally astonishing. Maggie & Me is a cause for celebration on all kinds of levels. Rejoice! Rupert Thomson Damian Barr sifts through the wreckage of a horrific childhood and manages to extract humour, generosity of spirit and ultimately joy, and he does it with a literary elan that had me re-reading whole paragraphs, just for the pleasure of it. To say I loved it doesn't begin to convey the mixture of emotions - tears, laughter, anger - I felt while reading it. This book should be required reading for children who need to know that there is life beyond an appalling beginning, and for politicians who prefer to look the other way Jojo Moyes author of Me Before You Like all too few memoirs, in a bloated, me-me age, Maggie & Me ends all too soon. Imagine one of the sharper Mitford sisters cruelly reborn into the family from Shameless and you've an idea of the treat in store. Barr tells his engaging, sad-funny story of a camp, bright lad in dire circumstances in Thatcher-era Motherwell in such a beguilingly confiding, arm-linking style, that I felt I'd made a new best friend only to lose them to a world of glittering opportunities. Read this at once before someone films it, as they most surely will Patrick Gale This is the most vital, visceral memoir since Jeanette Winterson's Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal? . Barr's depiction is so pungent, so earth-shattering it's a universal story of alienation - one for anyone who's ever felt desperate to escape. His childhood, evoked with such cheek-biting tenderness, now seems more real and more Technicolor than my own. I won't be happy until everyone reads this book Patrick Strudwick Timely confessional - zestfully observed, sharply written, and sprinkled with more lyricism and humour than a memoir of misery in Motherwell suggests -- Boyd Tonkin Independent Maggie & Me is a perfect chip supper of a memoir: nostalgic, tart, crisp and seductive. It's also sad, kind, witty, and sexy. And alarmingly educational Louisa Young Brilliantly observed, searingly intimate and painfully truthful, Maggie & Me brought the eighties back to me at the same time as making me question my established views of the whole decade. In other words, like the very best books, it changed me a little Sathnam Sanghera author of The Boy with the Topknot 'A nuanced, subtle and original account ... What could have been a flip idea with no real substance turns out to be a memoir which is both personally moving and a valuable historical document. Barr's style is conversational, intimate and convincing, and he resists every opportunity to show off. He holds his nerve tackling the unfashionableness of his thesis - that Thatcher inspired even those she seemed to despise - and makes us smile along the way -- Christena Appleyard Literary Review Certain memoirs catch a moment and seem to define it, bottle it ... Damian Barr, I suspect, is about to do something of the same with this hugely entertaining book ... Full to the brim with poignancy, humour, brutality and energetic and sometimes shimmering prose, the book confounds one's assumptions about those years and drenches the whole era in an emotionally charged comic grandeur. It is hugely affecting -- Andrew Holgate Sunday Times Beyond his Maggie cult, this memoir can boast a humour, bravery and brio that cross all party lines Independent Certain memoirs catch a moment and seem to define it, bottle it ... Damian Barr, I suspect, is about to do something of the same with this hugely entertaining book ... Published with outrageous good timing ... Full to the brim with poignancy, humour, brutality and energetic and sometimes shimmering prose, the book confounds one's assumptions about those years and drenches the whole era in an emotionally charged comic grandeur. It is hugely affecting -- Andrew Holgate Sunday Times This memoir of deprivation and survival is shrewdly constructed and written with a winning dry humour -- Adam Mars-Jones Guardian A brilliant, laugh-out-loud and profoundly moving Eighties memoir GQ An inspiring read Marie Claire By turns funny, tender, and heartbreaking, it is also a useful primer for anyone too young to remember what life was like in the industrial areas of Britain enduring the changes wrought by Thatcherism... A gifted storyteller, weaving skilfully back and forth through time, and his unfussy prose flows delightfully... Splendid Independent on Sunday Hugely affecting memoir Sunday Times Unlike most volumes of this kind, Maggie & Me is short on jokes and long on raw, pungent atmosphere. Barr has a keen eye for wincingly evocative detail... Expressed with a kind of grim lyricism New Statesman A touching and darkly humorous memoir... Topical and heartfelt TNT Magazine Witty, gritty and inspiring Glamour Maggie and Me by Damian Barr has a startling new take on the former PM -- Mark Smith Herald Comi-tragic memoir Evening Standard A refreshing, affecting and ultimately triumphant account -- Ben Felsenburg Metro Timely confessional - zestfully observed, sharply written, and sprinkled with more lyricism and humour than a memoir of misery in Motherwell suggests -- Boyd Tonkin Independent A real storyline, touching and personal, and I found myself laughing Mail on Sunday [A] talented writer ... Barr captures very well how it is possible to learn and to love even in the most unpropitious environment. His book is the better for the strange loyalty it shows to the place he fled Daily Telegraph I was dazzled by the energy and verve of Damian Barr's memoir, Maggie & Me ... I've been shoving copies into people's hands all year -- Johanna Thomas-Corr Evening Standard Books of the Year Damian Barr's wonderful memoir Maggie & Me . was the coming-of-age story of this year -- Louise Doughty Observer Books of the Year Written with beautiful clarity and no self-pity - I look forward to seeing what he does next -- Stephanie Merritt Observer Books of the Year Damian Barr's Maggie & Me is easily my favourite book of 2013 ... There isn't a trace of bitterness in the beautiful book. Only the radiant eloquence of a man whose courage and humanity shine from its pages -- Alan Johnson New Statesman Books of the Year Charming, life-enhancing -- Melanie Reid The Times Books of the Year Barr's moving, funny, inspiring memoir of growing up gay in Motherwell is a virtuoso piece of autobiography that paints a vivid portrait of our country's recent past -- Patricia Nicol Metro Non-fiction Books of the Year The surprisingly funny and positive story of growing up gay in a working-class town in Thatcher's Britain. It's worth the cover price for the Dirty Dancing scene alone -- Katy Guest Independent on Sunday Books of the Year
Damian Barr has been a journalist for over ten years writing mostly for The Times but also the Independent, Telegraph, Financial Times, Guardian, Evening Standard and Granta. He is the author of Get It Together: A Guide to Surviving Your Quarterlife Crisis, featured on Richard & Judy, and has co-written two plays for BBC Radio 4. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Faculty at the School of Life and host of the infamous Literary Salon at Shoreditch House. Damian Barr was named Writer of the Year at the 2013 Stonewall Awards. He lives in Brighton. @Damian_Barr