The idea that we learn just as much, if not more, from our failures as we do from our successes has been well-mined in recent years, particularly through Elizabeth Day’s How To Fail podcast, along with the books that have accompanied it, where celebrities tell stories of things that have gone wrong in their lives and what they learned from them. The existence of this work, comedian and writer Mark Watson reveals, was not something he was aware of until he was in the middle of writing Mortification: a blend of memoir and something approaching self-help, focused on exactly this subject.
His discovery of Day’s work is detailed in a funny and honest way, and it’s the humour and honesty of Mortification that make it such an enjoyable, engaging read, as Watson takes us through various “deaths” he has experienced over the years. From wincingly bad standup gigs to traumatic TV appearances to personal failings, confronting his mistakes and explaining how he came out the other side of them, it’s all expressed with the self-effacing truthfulness and wry wit for which he’s known. If Watson ever writes a second volume about his failures, this first book won’t be on the list.
Mortification: Eight Deaths And Life After Them, Mark Watson (Phoenix)
Price: £20. Info: here
words JOSHUA REES