The Diary of a Has-Been by William Humble

The Diary of a Has-Been Book Cover

The Diary of a Has-Been
William Humble
Urbane Publications
13 Oct. 2016


Arnold Appleforth claims getting old is all about attitude. And if that's the case he needs all the attitude he can get, because his journalistic career is on life support, his sex life non-existent (except for a recent regrettable incident at a well-known chain restaurant), his financial position precarious and his alcohol consumption prodigious.

Add to that his abysmal parenting of his three (or is it four?) children and the biohazard status of his flat, and life isn't a bed of roses. So Arnold decides to keep a diary, a daily dose of inspiration to keep his blood pumping. It'll deal with his own life with intimate, eye-watering honesty and also include pungent political comment on the disgraceful state of contemporary Britain.

With a view to publication of course - who wouldn't want to enjoy his wit and wisdom? Join Arnold as he drops pearly bon mots before swine and makes one last grab for literary immortality. And struggles to survive in a sadly unappreciative world...

The first thought which came to mind when I got hands on “The Diary of a Has-been” was ‘how does this compare to “The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen“?’ Both are diaries of elderly people and yes, there are some parallels between both books.
“The Diary of a Has-been” is funny in episodes, but does not have the funny level and emotional debt which “The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen” has in general.

There’s a 20 year different and a geological difference and that provides a space for 2 different background stories between both characters. “The Diary of a Has-been” is about 60 year old man which has been a life-long left wing with a mind set still in the 70’s. His behavior is self centered.

It wasn’t my kind of book, certainly because I had “The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen” to compare to, which to me is one of the best books I’ve read this year. “The Diary of a Has-been” is OK but certainly not great. You’ll have a chuckle ever now and then and yes it will entertain you, it is well written but obviously just for the UK market.


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