I do like Chris Heath's work. He's an unflashy writer, but cannily inciteful. His Pet Shop Boys' book, Literally, was great fun and I had a feeling this might be a good read too. It didn't disappoint.
The book covers Williams in 2002 / 2003 at roughly the peak of his fame and the point at which he's starting to slide over the edge and down the other side. I'm slightly awed by his ongoing battle with Fame, which flips between irritation, disinterest and "This is the best thing ever!". He's like a bored, hyper-active man-child who's never had the time - or inclination - to fully grow up. He seems trapped in the shadow of his (cabaret-singer) father and his own fame, yo-yoing back and forth between mood-swings, trapped on a conveyor-belt of freaky female stalkers, chocolate bars, bottles of anti-depressants and obligations that he has to constantly trick himself into fulfilling. All he wants, he continually claims throughout the book, is to find someone who genuinely loves him and to marry them. It's a naive and immature wish, yet strangely touching.
At the height of his fame - three nights at Knebworth (the most widely-attended English music concerts ever?) - he's bunking off to secretly record with Stephen "Tin-Tin" Duffy. His plan - the only thing that seems to really excite and galavanise him - is the idea of covertly recording and releasing an album of left-field electronic Pop under the name "Pure Francis". The lyrics he free-forms in the studio verge on pop-genius - it's like something The Associates might have recorded nearly 20 years earlier. I mean, "White 74..." - WTF!