I think Doughty is a 5 star writer but I decided I wanted to change this review upon realizing that this book kinda made me really dislike him. Essentially this is page after page about how he got hurt feelings and about how unstable his bandmates were, a shocking display of self-unawareness after admitting right off the bat that the drugs may have affected his memory. To sum things up - Doughty meets Jeff Buckley, gets jealous of him, for the women that sleep with him and his god-like status among his followers, then spends the next decade of his life trying to capture that with his band Soul Coughing. Thus, he gets increasingly annoyed with his bandmates, who demand equal pay (which they didn't always get, by the way) and equal credit. I've read both Doughty's account and De Gli Antoni's account and they both actually line up quite well, but I must say that when you listen to the discs, De Gli Antoni's is the one that rings more true. "A band is only as good as its drummer", he says, and Soul Coughing had a really great one. Soul Coughing was a band effort - they needed all four members to work, and Doughty's freestyling and jangly guitar scratching complimented what everyone else was doing. Meanwhile, Doughty really just wanted to be a solo act all along it seems, and would get upset that the band photos didn't highlight him, and that he wasn't being featured enough (for example, demanding a new video be made for "Circles" because the excellent cartoon video didn't make it clear who the singer was). Then, Doughty became a solo act, and you know what, he did alright. He's a better songwriter now. The great thing about Soul Coughing was that they could make magic whether a song was really there or not (and really, Doughty, you think you deserve sole credit for "Super Bon Bon"?)
I don't want to belabor the point about Soul Coughing, as Mike does that for you - literally half the book is him ranting about people he cannot even bring himself to name (the other half is him ranting against everyone else, including you, the fan, who just paid $15.99 to read Doughty's book on a topic that he insists you do NOT bring up). Essentially it's a guy who admits he was a junkie for nearly a decade telling us all how sure he was that everyone else was the problem. He talks about how him not getting his way led to him just not showing up to the studio, and yet he's baffled as to why his bandmates didn't respect him more. He goes on and on about how big Soul Coughing could have been if only they'd listened, and yet his solo career, where he can finally do whatever he wants, has seen diminishing returns, and only produced one song a non-fan might know (Looking at the World From the Bottom of a Well), if they heard it in a Starbucks or something. He gleefully lists all his bandmates failures post-Soul Coughing (they're all quite busy - Mark scores Warner Herzog films and Steinberg has played on a zillion records since), but doesn't dwell on the fact that he struggled mightily to find a record label to release his solo albums, attributing that to the fact that he was balding. Yes, Mark, Sebastian, and Yuval did not have the same success after Mike broke up the band, but neither did Mike himself! If Soul Coughing really was all about you, why did the fans abandon you en masse when you went to your current acoustic set up? The worst part is that he paints his bandmates as these totally unrealistic people, whose only goal in life was apparently to make Mike Doughty suffer and ruin his albums. Of course they wanted credit for Ruby Vroom - the songwriting there is virtually non-existent! Of course, he also takes credit for all the "freaky" parts of the band that people liked - but if you compare Horse Tricks and his similar attempt Dubious Luxury, the difference is night and day. I can't even make it through one of Doughty's "freaky" compositions. Still, a lot of it is just quibbling - there have been bands torn apart because bandmates started sleeping with each others wives, and here is Doughty spending a page complaining that De Gli Antoni took credit for a sample that he's "pretty sure" he came up with. That one of the guys broke his headphones and left him on his bed. That they got sick of each other on the tour bus. Yep. That's where the anger has festered these last 12 years. This is what made Doughty repeatedly compare himself to an "abused spouse" (a pretty offensive comparison, wouldn't you think? It's not like these guys even got physical!)
Still, as far as books that make the reader dislike the author go, this is a pretty good one. Doughty's a good writer. Lets just hope his next book isn't about himself.