Emily (whatisbiscuits) wrote in bookish,

Mark Oliver Everett, 'Things the grandchildren should know'

When I was about 16-20 the Eels were one of the bands I listened to all the time, so I had to read this eventually. Many of E's songs refer to the tragic deaths of his family, and we learn more about these in this memoir. His father, who died of a heart attack at 51; his sister, Liz, who took an overdose, a final one of many; and his mother, who died of lung cancer. Plus a cousin, Jennifer, a flight attendant who died on the plane that crashed into the Pentagon - this man really hasn't got much family left, so much so that he feels embarrassed filling in emergency contact forms at doctors surgeries - "I don't know who to put there".

The book takes us through E's childhood as a lonely but rebellious personality up to rock stardom in his forties, so in 245 pages inevitably much is left out and kept private - for example we never hear the details of how his marriage broke down, and we never learn intimate details about the 'crazy girls' he admits he had a thing for. Although you always feel he's holding something back, it's refreshingly respectful compared to some celebrity memoirs which 'reveal all' to obtain as much money as possible for their writers. E makes clear that making music, not making money, was always his priority, in contrast to the record companies who wanted him to keep writing hit singles.

While he tends to always see the good points in others (with the exception of George Bush and Dick Cheney), E certainly has no problems poking fun at himself. His cringeworthy anecdote about doing a judo hold on the prettiest girl in his self-defence class, when unexpectedly drops of water start splashing on her face and he realises it is the sweat dripping off his forehead, was something I could relate to as the sort of thing that happened to me at high school. And I enjoyed reading about his problems meeting his musical heroes, such as Neil Young, because he gets nervous and blurts out things like "I like your beard!".

It was nice to read a autobiography by someone who, despite having gone through a great deal of emotional pain, is grateful for the life they've had, without being arrogant about it. As he says, "I have to say that I'm proud that I've made it this far, and if this is as far as it goes - not bad, sir. Some extreme downs, but certainly some extreme ups, don't you think?"


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