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Madonna of Bolton - review

Matt Cain REALLY knows his Icon,

Madonna has lived with some of us for 30 odd years, I always liked her and still do, but Matt REALLY likes her and it is a treat to read this wonderful book which fixates on her but in such a good way.

He's a local lad, from Bolton by 'eck and he certainly knows all about that too. Cocker... sure he does... 

We can be a little risque and suggestive, because in keeping with his book, it is sort of the way it is... #vogue

He has written a truly brilliant account of a life, most likely mostly his own, but he's done a brilliant job of putting so much in that reads as real, is real and yet, maybe all made up.

He captures the periods he writes about beautifully, I'm 52 and a bit, I would imagine he's similar, as all the touchstones of iconography he uses
I recall so well too, no mobiles, Walkmans, chip butties and fashion and music and magazines, loose ciggies, bad hair, Blur vs Oasis, social ineptitude's, first time out and away to get away and feeling weird about yourself and yet, having a dream an ambition and a good life...

All put together with Madonna as a character we love and feel and hear and see... without actually meeting.

There is so much to say and yet, really I want to say very little, I want you to read the book, maybe meet Matt and come as a character from Madonna's fabulous backstory as he has in the book for his 21st in Cambridge at Uni.

Bolton Library on 16th May is the big event.... 

An ordinary lad who was abused at school and sort of at home, or misunderstood... to go and study at such a place as Cambridge, fit in, be seen, be liked and bring Madonna with him, is joyous. 

We have a song title for every chapter, I am surprised he only had the 40 odd chapters he could have gone on and we'd have read more... Some of the songs instantly pop back into your head as do her memorable videos and media frenzies, she really did and still does know how to entertain, maybe the greatest 20th Century Icon?

MJ, Prince, Freddie, Bowie... they can't compete sadly...
She is still doing it and still always fresh and inventive, I recall her sort of early sl**y look, then she went glam and I recall did a fab Evita, that was special. Evoked in a stage play in the book....

The stunning relauch when she went more techno with Ray of Light and Music, Hollywood and Vogue era....

Matt captures people perfectly, I would think many are real, that works as they are real in the book, from his down to earth family and their acquaintances and then his mad Uni crowd and then his foray into work from dodgy channels peddling Z rate no ones to his trying out Manchester's Queer as Folk scene....

and much more..

There is so much in this book, it's partly a bio of an Icon, partly a Northern kitchen sink soap, partly a commentary on class and identity, partly a rip roaring gay party with knobs...erm in/on I don't know the technicalities....

But you never worry about not being gay or knowing what it's like or about, you just like Charlie and his story, he is a true character, a true soul who is determined to do well, be liked and even maybe loved, find out the hard way and his friends are always such an important part of it all, they add to the story, some are memorable, his longest standing friend and the one who stood by him as Madonna, at Madonna and Shanaz herself is on a journey in the book too...

Let's think do we all know an 'Inappropriate Lee' or an 'Outstanding  (you'll get it when..) Caroline' or a 'Rent a Leg'?

They are so of the time, I was there too... but the time is the whole period, we live it as we read it. The schoolroom stuff was so spot on, the renaissance of meeting the past at the end again brilliant.

Even the infatuation with Bolton Wanderers is astute, a club with a past, Charlie knows it all, but is really not interested although he does don a new kit at a very unusual party... in fact one thing is... the period where Charlie loses himself in the hedonistic period, the jolt of reality that ensues is poignant, I recall the hard hitting ads....

There is a fair smidge of gay sex and banter, it's not gratuitous, it's in keeping and amusing as anything you'll read... the friends I had/have that are gay are all amongst the funniest, Mike his partner in going out in London is a gem of a character to read. He really knows what he wants and always seems to get some... erm Pringles anyone!

This is a fabulous book a real enjoyable account of a difficult and yet thoroughly lovely life of a boy, who has to become himself and how he gets there, the emotional stuff is excellent, the scenes back in Bolton are so well written, in fact Charlie originally was destined to be a writer, I wonder if Matt became him? Ask Beverley!

Matt deserves every success, his book is one that deserves to be read, so do... borrow or buy, both support the structure of community and reading. Try and come to his event in Bolton, it promise to be memorable... maybe Mad Donna will be with us? 

It's a £14.99 HB which we will do for £11.99 again, order and we will get signed and sent with free delivery...

Papa don't Preach is my favourite Madonna song... Maybe we all should bring a pink and gold post it note with ours on and make a montage?
Lucky Star is an apt motif... for both Madonna and Matt, long may they be Stars we all know and love...