Quite a few years ago a secondary school teacher-colleague in New Zealand was teaching Roald Dahl’s autobiographical venture “Boy” to a class of boys. If you haven’t read it, it’s a wonderful book!
The teacher lamented that there was no New Zealand equivalent that she could afford to buy a class set of to teach her class. So I wrote this for her, and told her she could photocopy copies as much as she liked. The students enjoyed it, although I make no claim to being Dahl’s peer!
Those who have read “Bits of a Boyhood” sometimes wondered if they liked the book because they know me personally, or is it the writing itself that has appeal. I leave it for the reader to decide.
The autobiography is available online for free.
Below are several reviews.
It’s always nice when you read the memoir of a person you hold in high esteem and you like them even more after you’ve read the book.
In this short volume, blogger, musician and author, Bruce Goodman, recounts his early years growing up as the penultimate of six children in rural New Zealand.
Let me hijack this review to say that many years before I was born, when there were probably already five or six Murphy children, my parents considered moving to New Zealand. Having visited the country, I think my parents would have loved the beautiful countryside and the outdoors lifestyle. I used to think a lot about what my life would have been like if I’d grown up a kiwi, but if they had moved there’s no guarantee that the dominoes that lined up in order for me to be born would have ever been knocked over.
I digress. Back to Bruce, who beat the odds and through a concatenation of events managed to be born Bruce Bernard Goodman in Wanganui.
Written in a series of vignettes, the author recounts his life from birth to leaving secondary school. Thoughtful, loving and humorous, Goodman shares hardships as well as good times, all told in an endearing voice that captures much more of life than if he had written a more detailed autobiography.
Even though my upbringing was very different to Goodman’s (my parents never made it to New Zealand), I found his tales of nature, chooks and family life relatable and it reminded me of the things my older siblings used to get up to in their youth.
The generous amount of photographs of the author adds a lot to this book. It’s great to see Goodman at the different ages he’s writing about, and I loved watching him grow, his unmistakable smile beaming from the majority of the pictures.
I hope that the author continues his memoirs, as he leaves this book on a bit of a cliff hanger. What happened next? I’d love to find out.
The late Cynthia:
Bruce Goodman’s Bits of a Boyhood is not the usual format of an e-book. With his own creative formatting, it was a pleasure to read on my laptop.
The book is just plain wonderful. I laughed and I cried. The point of view is very endearing – that of a young boy with the soul of a poet and a quizzical, quirky outlook on life. I would recommend it to everyone.
I have never liked reading electronically, though many have told me the kindle is eye friendly – I just like books! I like the weight of them and the smell of them and the feel of them. I like reading covers and back covers and author profiles. I like rifling the pages and fiddling with my book mark which is tactile and friendly in my hands when the story is winding down or I am winding down …
Despite that, late last year I spent some time reading an on-line biography written by Bruce Goodman. Covering the fifties and sixties and set in rural New Zealand the story is told compassionately and humorously of growing up in a large, rambunctious, catholic family. I know much of the era and the areas, and the descriptions resounded strongly for me. The pathos and humour of a boy sometimes struggling to understand the complex world of older siblings and grown-ups was a delightfully innocent read. Do wander over and have a read. It’s free and it’s delightful.
This morning I sat in the dentist’s waiting room whilst Jackie kept an appointment. During this time I finished reading Bruce Goodman’s ‘Bits of a Boyhood’. Given the amazing number of spurious dental appointments young Bruce wangled, this was probably quite appropriate. This autobiographical work must have been hidden away for at least half a century. No-one could possibly take us right into the mind of a boy at various stages of life unless he was that boy – then. Read it. On line. Or downloaded. It is a must for entertainment, for history, and for atmosphere. Oh, the memories it stirred in me.
I’ve just finished reading ‘Bits of a Boyhood’, by the way: an interesting insight into your youth and an enjoyable read. Did you ever write a follow up to this?