You can't turn to Pearson on Pearson to find out anything new about what motivates the popular biographer to start or to continue at his craft. For either his professional or his private life, the necessary self-fascination that invests the best autobiographies just isn't there. Perhaps it's bred-in-the-bone British reserve that kept him from luxuriating in himself, but the best parts of his book are about his colorful parents and theirs. He is frank without being informative -exactly how he was temperamentally able to go from his stodgy Edwardian manor house background to the nether edges of bohemian amorality is not clear and he doesn't speculate. His self assessment as a lazy, complacent man is not calculated to appeal. His wives and son get less attention paid them than to his acquaintances and his best stories of those went into the popular biographies for which he's noted. If there is anything more annoying than an authorized biography supervised by the subject, it is over-reticent autobiography by best-selling authors. These, from time out of mind, have been most often tempted to try.