The second volume in the autobiography of the actor, writer, and bon vivant takes him from his education as a thespian at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts to his adventures as a youth on the loose in London.
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Amazingly, this second volume of Peter O'Toole's memoirs (the first was Loitering with Intent: The Child, published in March 1995) covers only three years of the actor's life; even more amazingly, it's a wonderful read. If he hadn't been such a prodigiously gifted actor, O'Toole could have made it as a writer. His prose is discursive, freewheeling, multilayered, and fairly bursting with exuberant vitality. Loitering with Intent: The Apprentice covers O'Toole's years in the early 1950s at London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where he studied his craft, hobnobbed with fellow students (including Albert Finney, with whom he formed a lifelong friendship), and made rakish, footloose excursions around London. It's hard to say whether he had more fun in the living of it or the retelling, but both are a pleasure for the reader to behold.From Kirkus Reviews:
Slowly, slowly, but sometimes delightfully, O'Toole takes us through just his first year at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in this second volume of his memoirs (after (Loitering with Intent: The Child, 1993). At the current rate of progress, fans will have to wait quite a bit longer to get to O'Toole's celebrated screen career in films such as Lawrence of Arabia and The Lion in Winter. Actors are notoriously self-obsessed, but O'Toole breaks new ground as he batters us with insignificant anecdote after anecdote on the ephemera of his life. For a few pages, this looping, discursive style is engagingly oddball, and in a profession whose practitioners are not known for their literary abilities, O'Toole's prose is certainly polished and playful, although too self- consciously Joycean at times. But as with the first volume, he is not content merely to bore and frustrate us with a laundry list of details (and, yes, he even discusses his laundry), he also feels compelled to constantly digress in all directions and at length. In particular, he never misses an opportunity to discuss the great Shakespearean actor (and presumed kindred spirit) Edmund Kean. O'Toole does have some interesting thoughts on acting and on the teaching of acting, amusingly comparing the Stanislavski Method to the game of cricket. Like many British actors, O'Toole prefers a more deliberately constructed and calibrated style of acting. As he says rather severely of rehearsals, ``[They] are no occasion for dabblings in the inexact science of nature, functions, and phenomena of the human soul and mind.'' If only he could have brought his actor's precision and discipline to his prose. There is a charming, witty, lapidary, very slim volume somewhere in here, but it is buried under minutiae. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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