Lenny Henry – Who Am I, Again?

In 1975, a gangly black 16-year-old from Dudley, decked out in floppy bow tie and Frank Spencer beret, appeared on our TV screens for the first time. So began the transformation from apprentice factory worker to future national treasure of Sir Lenny Henry.

In his long-awaited autobiography, Lenny tells the extraordinary story of his early years and sudden rise to fame. Born soon after his Jamaican parents had arrived in the Midlands, Lenny was raised as one of seven siblings in a boisterous, hilarious, complicated working household, and sent out into the world with his mum’s mantra of ‘H’integration! H’integration! H’integration!’ echoing in his ears.

A natural ability to make people laugh came in handy. At school it helped subdue the daily racist bullying. In the park, it led to lifelong friendships and occasional snogs. Soon, it would put him on stage at working men’s clubs and Black Country discotheques. And then an invitation to audition for ITVs New Faces would change his life for ever.

But those first years of show business, in a 1970s Britain of questionable variety shows, endless seaside summer seasons, casual chauvinism and blatant racism, were a bewildering experience for a lone black teenager. At every stage, he wondered: ‘Am I good enough? Is this what they want? Who am I, again?’

Riotous, warm-hearted and revealing, and told with Lenny’s trademark energy – expect recipes, comic strips, and tips for aspiring comedians – Who Am I, Again? is the heart-breakingly honest and inspirational coming-of-age story of a man who holds a very special place in British hearts.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

Author: Lenny Henry
Narrator: Lenny Henry
Duration: 7 hours 22 minutes
Released: 19 Jan 2010
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Language: English

User Review:

grove stout

First of all, abridged versions of books – and especially abridged versions of celebrity autobiographys – should be avoided at all cost. As is the case here, what you get is a jumpy, choppy narrative where huge chunks are missing. And since most of us listening to this will have at least a passing familiarity with Grace Slick, you’ll find yourself saying “Wait a minute – what about…?” It’s a bit difficult to judge this, because we don’t know what Slick herself left out and what is being left out simply because it’s the “abridged” version.

That being said, Slick’s reading is rather flat and dull, and I found her constant unapologetic (even at age 60-something) ramblings about her childish antics a bit silly. She’s definitely a rebel without a cause, unless you count shocking people simply for the sake of shocking them a “cause.” Yawn. At least some of the other hippies of the time where trying to shock people into doing something about ending the Vietnam War, not just hoping to get a reaction by using the F-word and wearing silly, inappropriate getups.

There are some definite gems here, such as her account of her one-nighter with Jim Morrison and her plan with Abbie Hoffman to dose Richard Nixon with LSD at a White House tea (!) but I definitely found myself wanting more. And there is very little about her daughter (again, the fault of Slick or the abridged version?), which I was interested in: how does the daughter of Grace Slick rebel? By becoming a Republican debutant? We’ll never know, unless it’s in the unabridged book.

All in all, if you’re interested in this period in musical history (and it is fascinating), I recommend reading David Crosby’s autobiography “Long Time Gone” and the book “Hotel California” (neither, sadly, available on audiobook) or listening to “Laurel Canyon” (available on Audible). Much more satisfying.