NOTHING TO DECLARE by Taki

NOTHING TO DECLARE

A Memoir
by

KIRKUS REVIEW

 During the winter of 1984-85, Taki, society columnist for the London Spectator, spent about ten weeks in an English prison for cocaine possession. Here is his reworked prison diary--a sometimes whiny, sometimes charming, always opinionated running commentary on his life, his friends, and his time behind bars. De Profundis this isn't--as Taki admits (``While I was in Pentonville, I was certain I would write a masterpiece once free. Needless to say, this was not happening''). But if, unlike Wilde, Taki fails to transform his suffering into high art, he does write about his experience with sufficient skill to render palpable his humiliations at the hands of brutal guards and fellow inmates; his sorrow at passing the Christmas season away from his family; and his rage when, still in the clink, he receives a letter from his wife announcing divorce. Of most interest here are the details of prison life--tedium, filth, fear, homosexuality--that Taki, pampered playboy scion of a Greek shipping fortune, observes with horrified wide eyes and reports with admirable honesty (``And speaking of sex, I found myself staring at a young inmate's legs this afternoon...''). Also noteworthy, at least as a society memoir, are the many passages Taki weaves in about his privileged earlier life, from dating royalty to gallivanting about with Sean Flynn to hosting Gianni Agnelli--although Taki, well known for his sharp pen, is as likely to mock as to celebrate the famous whose names he drops by the dozen (on Phil Donahue: ``an ignoramus without precedent''). Less worthy, however, though occasionally challenging, is Taki's incessant soapboxing, with diatribes aimed at, among others, pornographers, bratty tennis stars, feminists, and the Sixties. Digressive, self-indulgent, cranky--but Taki spins a spirited yarn and entertains even as he rankles.

Pub Date: June 14th, 1991
ISBN: 0-87113-434-9
Page count: 228pp
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1991