IN&OUTTONIGHT REVIEWS 24 Tuesday, 21 July 2009 London Lite T he first thing that strikes you upon reading Aldrins account of the Apollo 11 moon landing in July 1969, is the sheer ingenuity of the enterprise. The computer that powered the astronauts craft, for example, contained less processing power than the average mobile phone does now. More incredible still is that none of the early space missions involved any fatalities. As Alan Shepard, who was the inspiration for the novel and the movie The Right Stuff, quipped when asked what he thought as he waited for lift-off: I wasnt scared, but I was up there look- ing around, and suddenly I realised I was sitting on top of a rocket built by the lowest bidder. The opening pages of Aldrins second autobiogra- phy deal with the amazing journey to the moon but the astronauts ghostwriter Ken Abraham doesnt capture Aldrins voice at all -- were left with a dry monotone that conveys very little of what an extraordinary feat Apollo 11 was. It doesnt help that Aldrin seems overly concerned with the impor- tance of saying a prayer as humanity listened in on him and Armstrong as they bounced around the lunar surface. Thereafter, Aldrin tells us about how awful it was being famous as the second man on the moon, how he struggled to find a new challenge after reaching such a peak at the age of 39 and how he dealt with the resultant depres- sion and alcoholism. For a man whos been through so much therapy, Aldrin seems lacking in self-aware- ness. he doesnt seem to acknowledge his appalling treatment of his first wife, Joan, and he rarely seems to question his appar- ent ambiguity towards fame -- fame that he has hardly helped to damp down by being so ready to embrace publicity. Yet there are compelling passages here, especially with regard to our changing attitude towards depression. Aldrin may have been ostracised in the Seventies for admitting to being depressed but our celebrity culture is more accepting. We encourage people to talk about such issues and in doing so lessen the stigma of suffering from depression and alcoholism. Its not just our computers that have improved since the Sixties and Seventies. REVIEWSBOOKS Crashlanding formoonhero KingOfPopwasgay,naive anddoomedtodieyoung Fly me to the moon: Buzz Aldrin in the lunar landing module; inset, taking his first steps on the moons surface BIOGRAPHY Falling And Laughing: The Restoration Of Edwyn Collins ByGraceMaxwell(Ebury,16.99) HHHHI ThINK youve had a bad day? In 2005, Grace Maxwell arrived home to find her husband edwyn Collins, the voice of eighties band Orange Juice, had suffered a massive stroke that sent him into a coma. he woke up unable to walk, talk, read, sit up, breathe or eat without tubes. It looked unlikely that he would sing again, particularly when he was hit with a second brain haemorrhage, then contracted MRSA in hospital. That is, it wouldve looked unlikely if Collins wasnt a man with the strength and determination of a herd of water buffalo and married to a woman ferociously insistent that he recover. And so he did, step by step, word by word, never losing his capacity for witty patter. Maxwell narrates their remarkable story with barrels of rough-and-ready Glaswegian drollery. Its a book that elucidates their moving documentary, home Again -- which culminated in Collins performing at BBC electric Proms -- and something to humble you next time you think your life is over when the boss ticks you off. MARTHA DE LACEY At just 24, journalist Amy Molloy has been through hell by anyones standards. she fell in love with an older Irishman on her gap year in Australia and impetuously decided to marry. But her husband-to-be, Eoghan, was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and died three weeks after their wedding. Instead of dressing in black, she painted the town red and went on an epic sh**ging spree, sleeping with 27 men in 13 months -- most of them scumbags. It might not have been the most sensible way to deal with widowhood, but it does make for high drama and Molloy works through the seven stages of grief -- with added sambuca shots -- before emerging as a more reflective person in the final chapter. While she probably shouldnt consider a career in the self-help industry, you cant help but feel glad that the end is also a new beginning. AMBER COWAN AS FAR back as I can remember, Ive had haemorr- hoids. So begins the story of 18- year-old helen, who has been admitted to hospital after cutting her bottom shaving. Thats right, helen is the sort of girl who shaves her bottom, and tells us about this, and many more intimate things besides: her bodily fluids, sex organs, masturbatory habits and penchant for breaking wind in the bath. If nothing else, helens raw honesty will make you think about literature, feminism and more. WILLIAM LEITH Wetlands ByCharlotteRoche (4thEstate,7.99) Newpaperbacks BIOGRAPHY Unmasked: The Final Years Of Michael Jackson ByIanHalperin(Simon&Schuster,10) HHHHH WHALEs, Philip Hoare says, are awesome -- the biggest creatures on Earth, and, in some ways, the most mysterious. theyve been around longer than us but weve only known about them for a short part of our history. Inspired partly by Herman Melville, Hoares brilliant book won the samuel johnson Prize for non- fiction. Its a sort of antidote to Moby-Dick. unlike Captain Ahab, he wishes the great beasts well. WL Leviathan Or The Whale ByPhilipHoare (4thEstate,8.99) JOhANNeS VeRMeeR lived in Delft in the 17th century and died suddenly at the age of 43. The artist had been in debt and under great stress, partly because economic recession had cut into his business. here, Timothy Brook analyses five of Vermeers works and explains what they tell us about the painters world. The bottom line: holland in 1660 was at the heart of a new global economy -- people had hats from Canada and carpets from Turkey. Brook takes you into the paintings in a way that can be spookily intimate. WL Vermeers Hat ByTimothyBrook (Profile,9.99) THE BIG READ Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home From The Moon ByBuzzAldrin(Bloomsbury,16.99) HHHII PAUL CONNOLLY AUTOBIOGRAPHY Wife, Interrupted ByAmyMolloy(HeadlineReview,12.99) HHHII On 24 December last year, writer Ian Halperin hit the headlines for saying Michael jackson had six months to live. six months and a day after that, the King Of Pop was dead. And three weeks later, this posthumous biography is the first to hit the shops. Halperin began to research jacksons past when the singer was found not guilty in his 2005 molestation trial. He set out to prove the star guilty, but now concludes the opposite. the author details every court case, tV appearance and cosmetic operation since the out-of- court settlement with the parents of 13-year-old jordan Chandler in 1993. Halperin argues the star was extremely naive but innocent of child abuse. He believes jackson was gay and claims Lisa Marie Presley married him because scientology convinced her she could turn him. He tells of the episode when police took photos of jacksons genitalia to compare with a boys description, and also claims the singer hit on him in a pizza parlour -- the most intense moments I have ever experienced looking into another mans eyes. this astonishingly well- researched book concludes that greed killed jackson: anorexia and a rare lung disease meant he could never have done the 50 O2 gigs. the postmortem results will show if Halperin is right. LAUREN PAXMANKilled by greed: Jackson index.html2.html3.html4.html5.html6.html7.html8.html9.html10.html11.html12.html13.html14.html15.html16.html17.html18.html19.html20.html21.html22.html23.html24.html25.html26.html27.html28.html29.html30.html31.html32.html33.html34.html35.html