Breakfast in Brighton - Nigel Richardson
I have breakfast in Brighton every day and have yet to write a book about it; it's just not that interesting a topic, no matter what you have on your Weetabix. Needless to say, Richardson does not just write about breakfast, but his scrabbling around to find a book's worth of stuff to say about the town has some mixed results.
The Brighton described here is that of the mid-late '90s, before the prices shot up and the London fashionistas came down to suck out its soul. It's hard not to blame books like this for mythologising the Brighton Experience and attracting all the twats in the first place, but hey ho, the damage has been done. This is a tourist's-eye view, with Lonely Planet-style reporting - slightly trendy, with anecdotes from locals to illustrate the town's darker past, but mostly just focusing on the more arty-farty aspects of the place.
Breakfast in Brighton tries to be many things - character sketches of eccentrics, snippets of local history, and a couple of peculiar artistic quests. Richardson goes on a fishing boat, and the Pier, tracks down an actress from the film Brighton Rock (not to be confused with the website of the same name), and interviews some local people about the razor gangs, the Brighton Trunk murders and the history of the gay subculture - all of this is interesting, but kind of pointless and formless; the purple prose gets very wearing after a while.
The two "quests" are the only real structure the book has. One of these is for the Le Bas painting "Breakfast in Brighton," which the author is trying to find; the other involves a portrait of Shakespeare his friend bought from a junk shop, and the various art experts and psychics that they consult to check its provenance. While quite entertaining, neither story has a particular conclusion, and they both seem to have been added just to bulk out the book a bit when the actual Brighton material started to run thin.
I'd say that this is worth reading for the history bits, but on the whole is just rather too pretentious for its own good. Rather like Brighton itself, unfortunately.