... compelling reading, an eloquent and unconventional memoir from an extraordinary character who has shared stages with some of the most epochal talents of the 20th century ... Clarke detonates zingers on every page, plus there are priceless cameos ... one of the most magnificent and hysterically funny memoirs of modern times.
Clarke’s hyper-consciousness of what’s cool is gleefully self-deprecating ... For someone who is nowadays seen as a curiosity, it’s a surprise to be reminded what a relatively mainstream figure Clarke was ... He is capable of moments of real loveliness as well as comedy ... you’d rather such emotional avoidance than the poor me-whining of many celebrity memoirs ... Basically, I Wanna Be Yours is fantastically entertaining. The only vice it shares with conventional rock star autobiography is its formlessness, a tendency to the undifferentiated recitation of events — which hotel I stayed in, which theatre I played, what my agents said to me. But Clarke’s life was so uninterruptedly interesting, you don’t mind ... As a writer of comic prose Clarke is the match of anyone alive, and his turns of phrase are as sharp as his suits ... His drawl is as much a part of his peculiar ars poetica as the words of the poems themselves. Every sentence he writes, you read in his voice. By the end of the nearly 500 pages of I Wanna be Yours I felt I’d not so much read a memoir as listened to an outrageous confession from a psychoanalyst’s couch.
... sprightly ... Much of his tale is as bleak as his poetry, but Clarke is a droll observer of his own life, guiding us through a childhood of benign neglect to later heroin addiction and an often terrifying cast of characters ... As with his performances, his comic timing as a writer appears effortless but is highly skilled ... The least interesting parts of Clarke’s book deal with heroin addiction at the height of his career (he has been clean for many years) ... For aspiring poets, he deconstructs his writing process, explaining an intriguing technique of writing backwards ... Clarke’s primordial gift for language is everywhere in this book. It is almost impossible not to read passages out loud — a meta reminder of his contribution to the joy of spoken-word performance.
... [a] wild ride of a memoir, in the sardonic Salford drawl that’s always ready with a quip or a comeback. Here, that voice takes a while to tune into, for it’s strange to have this dandified poet suddenly present himself in the plain clothes of prose ... The intricacy of detail he supplies is staggering, and you start to wonder: is he going to tell us everything? Apparently yes, because he’s forgotten absolutely nothing. This is the Lancashire lad as mohair-suited Proust, weak of lung but iron of will, plotting his course from antic poète maudit to punk laureate with all points in between ... Be warned, however: he doesn’t actually take to the stage until page 203. Before that come screeds of reminiscence about his hungry years and his frequent changes of career ... If you don’t care for stories about craving drugs and scoring drugs, the second half of the book might pall, but as a slice of 70s nostalgie de la boue I found it pretty compelling, a companion piece to Viv Albertine’s brilliant 2014 memoir, Clothes Music Boys.
... an immensely engaging memoir that fizzes with wit, and it is simultaneously a chronicle of a lifetime’s worth of extraordinary culture ... The book is also an at times bleak account of his descent into heroin addiction, always written with a lightness of touch, but never swerving in its mission to bare all ... it cements Clarke’s status as one of the most distinctive voices in pop cultural history ... The second, post-Pistols half of I Wanna Be Yours sees Clarke encountering just about all of the great, good and downright grim of ’70s and ’80s music...but it’s the obscure local characters, the figures skulking around the peripheries, that are the most entertaining ... If nothing else, I Wanna Be Yours stands as a thrilling document of some of music’s most exciting moments of the last century.
It’s impossible not to hear Clarke’s voice, rhythmic and deadpan, while reading his memoir. Like his poetry, his prose style is wry and dry. At nearly 500 pages, the book is long though the language is succinct. Mad anecdotes and whimsical gags abound, but wisdom often lurks beneath the wordplay. Clarke has his unreconstructed moments, but any mockery is at his own expense ... Those hoping for extensive analysis of Clarke’s working methods will need to look elsewhere ... He is more expansive on the social and cultural developments of his youth. Indeed, you’d struggle to find a more comprehensive and entertaining account of 60s and 70s popular culture as he contemplates fashion, hair styles, hats, comics, breakfast cereals, magazines, domestic colour schemes and architecture ... Clarke doesn’t deal in regret, and recalls his lean years with good humour ... a rare misty-eyed moment. Elsewhere, though, he remains bullishly unsentimental.