A Spectacle of Dust

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 07 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 August, 2011, 12:00am


A Spectacle of Dust
by Pete Postlethwaite
Weidenfeld & Nicolson (e-book)

When Pete Postlethwaite's agent suggested early in his career that he adopt a 'showbiz-ey' name, the actor had a simple solution: he changed his agent. He saw no reason to take on a different name to his Anglo-Saxon one, which had to do with crop rotation (a postle was a fallow field, a thwaite a fertile one). That self-professed lack of interest in self-aggrandisement is writ large in A Spectacle of Dust, his posthumously published autobiography. Postlethwaite, who died in January, comes across as a wild but gentle genius with few airs. With help from Andy Richardson, who ghostwrote the book for him as he died of cancer, the memoir tells of Postlethwaite's northern English working-class upbringing, learning his craft with Julie Waters (once a girlfriend) and the realisation, after watching Tom Courtenay in The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, that 'you didn't have to be poncey to be an actor'. Fans will enjoy reliving his films, such as The Usual Suspects, and understand why, as he wrote, being on stage was his Sangreal.