It looks dreadful. This delightfully devastating review at Amazon seems to sum up that judgement pretty neatly:
"Originally, this book appeared exactly the sort of transient cash-in attempt that should be avoided, which is exactly what I did. However, with the best of intentions, my partner picked this up as a last minute Christmas present. Stuck in the house for several days, I thought I should read it, at least out of politeness . Both the author and I made a mistake, the difference being that mine was genuine.
Trite, lightweight, anodyne and utterly lacking in depth, this book illustrates little about Mackerrell that cannot be found elsewhere, such as friend Bruce Robinson's 'Conversations in Bed', or ex-partner Kate Stacey Lister's interview in 'The Scotsman'. However, it does illustrate much about Bacon's ineptitude as a biographical writer. To begin at the end, there is no index, which smacks of utter laziness. The hackneyed, pseudo-self deprecating way of referring to himself in the book shows an ego in inverse proportion to his ability.
The tone of the book suggests strongly that Bacon had little real interest in making any effort to uncover much about Mackerrell. His often-failed attempts to make contact with key figures such as Robinson give the distinct impression of a someone too ham-fisted in their approach to gain an interviewee's trust and too lazy to leave home to travel anywhere unless it was unavoidable. His approach seems to have been of the `have you got anything you could send me' sort, for which read a subtext of `because I can't really be bothered'.
Bacon ropes his wife into writing an account of how he and Mackerrell are related, presumably through the maternal line, although the connection is never made explicit. The writing is amateurishly adequate, but appears not to have been proof-read. Witness the use, or rather misuse, of the word 'antecedence' instead of 'antecedents'. Surely a difference a biographer should know. The repeated use of the word 'family', in one case five times in nine lines, can only lead me to hope that the Bacons have spent at least some of their earnings on a Thesaurus.
Despite the `me, me, me' of the very distant connection between Mackerrell and Bacon, the author, using the term in its most generous sense, gives no similar account of Mackerrell's family tree on his father's side. Yet more ego and laziness on Bacon's part.
Towards the last quarter of the book it becomes clear that the very few facts that Bacon has bothered to assemble are by now stretched almost beyond breaking-point across what is still an inadequate number of pages. The author is reduced to writing a fictional account of the end of Mackerrell's life, to fill out the pages. Although it becomes obvious very quickly, there is no signal to the reader that we are lurching from a biography to a novel. Perhaps he needed the practice, but why it should be inflicted on the general public is utterly beyond me.
As a closing example, Bacon's describing of Scotch whisky Bowmore as a `whiskey' seals the coffin of his credibility. Ultimately Bacon has bothered to do little more than the absolute minimum to hack together something he can use to cash in on the popularity of the film `Withnail and I'.
If all copies of `Vivian and I' were pulped, the quality of writing would improve slightly. The fate of my copy is sealed."