Let's face it. John Lydon is not a nice guy, and that's a good thing. In his autobiography Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs, Lydon writes:
Nice is the worst insult you could ever pay anybody. It means you are utterly without threat, without values. Nice is a cup of tea.
Can you put it any more simply than that? It's like calling someone pretty. Some girls (and boys too now, probably) are perfectly fine with being called pretty. Most of us are not, however. We aren't flowers, don't call us pretty. It goes hand-in-hand with being called nice. "Oh, she's a nice, pretty girl! I'll bring her home to meet mother!" I'm getting off track.
The story told in Rotten is one that spreads from the working class streets of London where Lydon (AKA Johnny Rotten) was raised, to the meeting and forming of the Sex Pistols, to Lydon's recollections of various tours and the all-around media frenzy surrounding them, to Lydon's days of putting Public Image Limited together. It also includes a nice collection of rarely-seen photos of a very little John looking shy and timid, family photos and photos from the early days of the Pistols. A nice touch at the beginning of the book is a photo index and short descriptions of each photo.
The book includes many funny stories, or maybe they're just funny because of the way Lydon tells them. For example, the "shit sandwich" and "sperm omelet" story. Most people, I would think, wouldn't find such things amusing, but the way in which Lydon recalls them, almost fondly, is humorous. There are also many, many digs at the former bassist of the Pistols, Glen Matlock. It (almost) makes you feel bad for the guy. The book also contains quotes from various people from the punk days that surrounded Lydon and the band, including Billy Idol, Steve Jones and Paul Cook (members of the band), Chrissie Hynde, Julien Temple and many others; Lydon's father even has two chapters wherein we get to see a bit of a different side of John and, ultimately, a very honest one. The only thing that I feel is missing are quotes from Glen Matlock. It would have been a riot to see the contradictory stories between John and Glen, and to see Glen trying to back-paddle his way out of being a middle-class schmuck.
Lydon paints a very black portrait of Malcolm McLaren, and basically, everyone he comes into contact with. Even Lydon's wife, Nora, was not safe from his sharp use of words when they first met, and she even claims to have hated him the first couple times they met.