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The Independent Culture
Even more revealing than what we say about ourselves in our own write is what we say in our own voice. Alec Guinness reading his own "Diary of a Retired Actor", My Name Escapes Me (Penguin, 3hrs, pounds 7.99), enhances his reputation as funny, cultivated and modest; the richness of his talented life is reflected in how much he has to remember, and still enjoy. The drug smuggler Howard Marks, enfant terrible of Oxford in the 1970s and notoriously capable of charming his way out of most scrapes, is distinctly diminished by his autobiography Mr Nice (Reed, 3hrs, pounds 7.99). His awed and repetitive roll call of his biggest ever heists, cleverest carriers and most ingenius aliases has lots of cliched declarations for the family who (inexplicably) stood behind him, but leaves the impression of a man with pounds signs in his eyes rather than soul.

Christina Hardyment