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Beautiful Things Reviews

Beautiful Things by Hunter Biden

Beautiful Things: A Memoir

Hunter Biden

3.07 out of 5

6 reviews

Imprint: Simon & Schuster Ltd
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd
Publication date: 6 Apr 2021
ISBN: 9781398507197

"I come from a family forged by tragedies and bound by a remarkable, unbreakable love," Hunter Biden writes in this deeply moving memoir of addiction, loss, and survival.

  • The ObserverBook of the Week
3 stars out of 5
Peter Conrad
11 Apr 2021

"The US president’s guilt-ridden son relates his life of excess in detail, but sadly lacks any self-awareness"

Hunter’s writing can be mawkish, especially when he is differentiating between “Mommy” (his dead mother), “Mom” (his stepmother, Joe’s second wife) and “Mom-Mom” (his granny). The book’s title refers to the “beautiful things” he and Beau aspired to do when they got round to “making the world a better place”, but Hunter’s narrative is mostly grim and squalid. “There was no fucking poetry to it at all,” he remarks after a nervy transaction in the slums. At another point, he buys recycled urine so he can cheat on a drug test. Nevertheless, episodes of delirious lyricism do occur. Driving while doped, Hunter is guided along a perilous mountain road in Arizona by a phantasmal barn owl, while he transforms the Hollywood hills into a gothic wilderness, a suburb of hell where coyotes howl and nocturnal birds screech maledictions.

Reviews

4 stars out of 5
Josh Glancy
11 Apr 2021

"This frank, chaotic, self-justifying memoir is mesmerising"

This memoir. Holy hell. I knew going in that President Biden’s son was a crack addict and an alcoholic. I knew he had had an affair with his beloved brother’s widow. I knew he had impregnated a stripper whom he met in a Washington strip club. I knew that his life had been marked by profound tragedy, losing his mother and sister in a horrifying car crash. But to read all these things in the memoir of a sitting president’s son was mesmerising. This book is a sizzling mess of grief, addiction, self-justification and misdirection. It’s admirable — and also abominable.

4 stars out of 5
Justin Webb
10 Apr 2021

"There is not a trace of self-pity or mawkishness in Hunter Biden’s memoir, which deals honestly with his drink and drugs addiction"

Beautiful Things is a beautiful book by Biden, the 51-year-old son of the president. It is a sharply written account of what it is like to be at the same time enormously privileged (the wealthy, Yale-educated son of an influential politician) and utterly wretched (addicted to drink and drugs). Nowhere is it mawkish or self-pitying. Of course, if you think rich, well-connected people thoroughly deserve a bit of nastiness in their otherwise sweet-smelling lives, this is not the book for you. But if you are human, and humane, Hunter is speaking to you and asking, if not for forgiveness then for understanding.

3 stars out of 5
6 Apr 2021

"The younger Biden’s book shows flashes of his grasp of power politics. But he also demonstrates a continuous blind spot for his own predicament. "

The younger Biden’s book shows flashes of his grasp of power politics. But he also demonstrates a continuous blind spot for his own predicament. Confession should not be conflated with self-awareness... Beautiful Things is smoothly written and quickly paced. We know how and where the story ends. Hunter Biden appears to have found happiness in his second marriage. His father is now president.

2 stars out of 5
Tim Stanley
6 Apr 2021

"it is well-written – occasionally harrowing – but other books are better, and Hunter’s ability to cushion every mistake with money makes him a less than universal figure"

 I return to the mystery of the reasoning behind this book. It might have made sense as an attempt to quash the allegations against the Bidens during the election, but daddy won the White House – so what’s the point of it now? If the goal is to give us a timeless memoir of addiction, it is well-written – occasionally harrowing – but other books are better, and Hunter’s ability to cushion every mistake with money makes him a less than universal figure. You can always tell that a writer lacks faith in his material when the text sounds like the blurb: “It’s a Biden love story… which means it’s complicated: tragic, humane, emotional, enduring, widely consequential, and ultimately redemptive.”

2 stars out of 5
Tim Stanley
6 Apr 2021

"This is a harrowing tale of trauma, sibling rivalry and addiction – but it's an odd moment to be striking back at the Trumps"

I return to the mystery of the reasoning behind this book. It might have made sense as an attempt to quash the allegations against the Bidens during the election, but daddy won the White House – so what’s the point of it now? If the goal is to give us a timeless memoir of addiction, it is well-written – occasionally harrowing – but other books are better, and Hunter’s ability to cushion every mistake with money makes him a less than universal figure. You can always tell that a writer lacks faith in his material when the text sounds like the blurb: “It’s a Biden love story… which means it’s complicated: tragic, humane, emotional, enduring, widely consequential, and ultimately redemptive.”