Mark Oliver Everett's upbringing was 'ridiculous, sometimes tragic and always unsteady'. His father - a quantum mechanic who worked for the Pentagon - was a genius who had corresponded with Einstein aged 13. He rarely spoke, and following his own miserable childhood had eccentric ideas of how children should be brought up. Mark - and his older sister Liz were raised in a house with no rules, with parents who had 'a kind of seventies swinging marriage'.
Lacking any real sense of authority, E had to raise himself, not always with the greatest success. His love of music helped pull him through, and by his early 20s he was on the brink of stardom with his first album - Beautiful Freak. But then tragedy struck - having already lost his father to a heart attack, his sister and mother both died in short succession - Liz from an overdose, and his mother from cancer.
It was the kind of brutal loss that could destroy someone, but somehow E survived, and channelled his experiences into his music. In THINGS THE GRANDCHILDREN SHOULD KNOW he tells his story - one that is surprisingly full of hope, humour and wry wisdom.
©2008 Mark Oliver Everett; (P)2008 Blackstone Audio
"... personal history recounted drily and wittily in this somewhat unusual musical autobiography... This book isn't just for devotees. Even those unfamiliar with, or indifferent to, Everett's work will still vicariously enjoy meeting him, and getting sorted for Eels and wit." (The Independent)
"...Everett reports all of this in an exquisitely unhysterical voice. His prose has none of the tongue-twisting, peck-along-in-rhythm riffs of his song lyrics... On the page, he just speaks, and continues to speak, in a cleverly uninflected way, minimising the surface area of drama and pain, even when recalling how his father?s ashes were put out with the rubbish.
Crucially, Everett picks the right stories to tell. A rare skill in the writers of memoirs... the right story. The one that gives a perfectly small and clear snapshot of the turmoil within the subject and the condition of the world around him. It makes you trust every word coming off the end of Everett?s fingers. His book is a subtle, touching thing." (The Times)
I like Eels, and I knew E had had a pretty 'interesting' life, so when a friend recommended his book, I guess I was hoping for more. It's pretty standard loner-misfit-comes-good stuff, and he's so keen not to seem pretentious and gloating that he's left such an obvious pretension-and-gloating sized hole in the narrative, it's clear he's holding back and letting you draw your own conclusions, i.e. he's super-awesome.
I don't know about your listening habits, but I like my audiobooks a good deal longer than 5 hours too. Regret this purchase, would rather have just listened to some Eels albums. They do a better job of telling E's stories and pains than literature can.. after all, that's his gift, and that's why he's famous. He has a hell of an interesting life story, but he seems to have done his best to avoid telling a lot of it here. It would probably make a better biography than autobiography, as he's a bit too much of an shy recluse to really write about himself and do himself justice.
I've been a long time fan of Eels and Mr E's work...this is a funny, tragic and fascinating look at his life and how he became a recording artist. Starting from his childhood in Virginia and taking him to LA and then eventually on tour. As a fan i found it interesting to learn some stories and details behind some of his songs but i think this could be interesting even if you aren't a fan of his music just to hear the tale of an interesting life told with an amazing sense of humor and humility.
I wouldn't call myself a fan as such, not owning any of the Eels albums, but I've always noticed their music and enjoyed it. Having finished this though, I realise not only that I actually know a huge amount of their back catalogue, but I have an amazing insight into a humble, amusing man, who counts himself lucky, despite everything that has happened in his life. The title sticker - 'Rock Music, Death, Crazy People, Love' pulled me in, and is seriously what it's all about - but his writing style, portraying his self-deprecating, amusing personality, is what keeps this life story going. Narrated wonderfully by The Chet, one of E's friends and musical colleagues, gives it another level of sincerity - no acting here, just the often extra-ordinary, true story of a successful musician who appreciates his lot in life.
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