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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great even without the music, 17 Sep 2008
A Kid's Review
I don't agree with reviewers who say you need to be an Eels fan to enjoy this book. I barely knew Eels at all, and I came to the book because of my interest in quantum physics and Mark Everett's father (see, for example, In Search of Schrodinger's Cat). I found it to be a terrific read full of insights about growing up in America. And THEN I bought a couple of Eels albums, which are also great.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Goddamn right it's a beautiful life, 27 Oct 2009
By 
Sam Quixote - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
I'm not a big fan of Eels but I remember loving "Novocaine for the Soul" when I heard it in '97 and I've occasionally dipped into their music every now and then. I recently got into "Hombre Lobo" and decided to give this book a go. Wow. Now I have to go and listen to every album they've done.

Mark Everett or "E" writes about his life in a candid memoir. His father was a brilliant physicist who created the theory of parallel universes but was a very distant man emotionally. E's mother was also quite distant but his sister Liz was the center of his universe. Liz was in and out of mental hospitals for most of her life and became heavily involved with drugs. One morning E found his father dead in his bed. A few years later his sister took her life. Shortly after his mother contracted inoperable lung cancer and died in front of him. He lost friends, a roadie called Spider, to heroin, and the brilliant Elliott Smith, who took his own life after frequent troubles with drugs. He also lost a cousin on 9/11 - she was a stewardess on the plane that hit the pentagon.

After so much death and misery it's a miracle E didn't take his own life. He writes that he was lucky, that he had music to save him. And what music! The text is scattered with lyrics which he explains as part of his life story. From being a young boy with a toy drum kit bashing away in a closet, to becoming an international rock star (a label he never gives himself by the way - the closest he gets is saying he's lucky to do what he does), E's story is remarkable for the overcoming of such hardships, of losing your entire immediate family in a matter of years and to find yourself alone, to then turn that into a series of heartbreaking albums is amazing.

It's written so well too. Even a casual reader unfamiliar with Eels could pick it up and become engrossed in the story. As a fan though I found out so much about his life that I had to go back and listen to the records just to see if I could pick up on what was going on in his life when he recorded it. The finale comes with the release of the "Blinking Lights" double album and the "Eels with Strings" concert at the Royal Albert Hall. All the themes of the book come together as he stands on stage and plays the songs of his life. It's very moving and shows a writing skill far beyond what you would expect of a "rock star". But for all the high level of writing E shows here, his lyrics, his poetry, are the best examples of his gifts.

"So in the end I'd like to say
That I'm a very thankful man
I tried to make the most of my situations
And enjoy what I had
I knew true love and I knew passion
And the difference between the two
And I had some regrets
But if I had to do it all again
Well, it's something I'd like to do"

What a story, what a man. Read this book.
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible, 25 Jan 2008
By 
D. Thompson (Belfast, Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Probably the most beautiful story I have ever read. As an Eels fan I've been fascinated by E for a long time, and his intriguing lyrics have left me with a lot of unanswered questions. This book answers them all. None of his lyrics are a mystery any longer and you can relate them to his own life experiences, which only serves to help you relate them to your own.

It's a miracle that this man remains so upbeat despite so much personal tragedy, and in fact is stronger because of it. It's a long time since I've read a book so quickly, with so much concentration. I've read autobiographies by many of my favourite music/comedy artists, but none of them come close to touching this. I consider myself unfortunate that I am not a close personal friend of Mark Oliver Everett.

I was not previously aware of the controversy surrounding "Daisies of the Galaxy" but I am so glad I know about it now! Pure insanity and makes for great stories.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and uplifting account of one man's life...also good insight into rock n' roll, 7 Feb 2008
By 
Richard I. M. Hughes (York) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
It's a story of one man, who doesn't quite fit in. He doesn't fit in because of his take on life which has been aided by his family's strange place in their community.
This is an honest account of growing up feeling different, having natural talents which don't really materialise until he's in his late teens. When he does realise that music is a road by which he wishes to travel, he struggles with balancing his creativity with the fact that death seems to be around the corner.
Clearly sensitive, Mark E writes with a flawless passion where he tries to clearly assess quite horrific incidents through a natural distance - and this throws up his emotional and intellectual dilemma.
He is an outsider who writes some quite amazing music. In the context of his music it's great to have this personal account of his life rather than read interviews or record reviews. It brings even more to his records.
Good autobiographies bring images into your minds eye about the writer - this is a very evocative account of "E's" life and well done to him for writing it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, tragic, poignant, triumphant, 23 Mar 2008
By 
Lumpster (Yorkshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
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E's bad luck in life is well documented and this book takes a look though his life thus far, specifically focusing on all of the events that have made him perhaps the greatest singer/songwriter of his generation. The book is an amazing piece of writing, tackling some very dark moments in an objective and positive way that stays well clear of the 'depressing' tag. What's more, it's a really easy read - I stormed through it in 2 days and just wanted it to go on and on. You definitely don't need to be a fan of the Eels to appreciate this but if you are, it is the perfect window into the world of a genius who has been through so much but has come of it all fighting and blessed with humour and a very honest sense of perspective. I can't recommend this book enough - enjoy!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring, honest and incredibly moving, 4 Mar 2010
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Having been introduced to Eels by a good friend, I didn't think much at first but as I listened to their first album a few more times, it started to grow on me and I was delighted to find that E wrote a book about himself and having finished reading it, I am even more delighted that he did!

This is an absolutely honest, unpretentious, deeply moving and sincere story of one man's life that is as sad and inspiring as it is simple and wise at the same time.

I would recommend this to anyone whether they are an Eels fan or not and I am confident that after reading this book, most people would absolutely fall in love with the man and will also learn to count small blessings and take each day as it comes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just the grandkids that should know this..., 10 Dec 2009
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Being a big fan of Mr E and all things Eels related have actually had this book a while now but re-read it the other night and felt compelled to submit my humble opinion. In truth other reviews here probably sum it up better than I can but to reiterate this is definitely NOT your typical "rock-star" "poor me" style autobiography, and it is part of E's considerable charm that he himself would probably cringe to think of himself in such a way. If you are already an Eels fan then this is VITAL as it gives a superb insight into the man, his (extraordinary) life and the inspiration behind the music-if you are not a fan then as others have said before me you will still find this a fascinating read. The content is already discussed in other reviews, the unconventional upbringing, deaths of close family and friends, and generally "so weird you just couldn't make it up" events in this amazing man's life-but it is far from a depressing read-indeed it is uplifting simply because E writes in a factual style and doesn't at any time ask the reader to feel sorry for him-if you want self-pity then look elsewhere. If you are prone to the odd "downer" (and let's be honest who isn't during these "rock hard times")I think you will emerge at the end of this book feeling that you have a kindred spirit out there-someone who really has been there and worn the t-shirt and just keeps getting back up for more.
A recent article by the great man himself attests to his slightly pessimistic (though understandable) view that he has to get as much music out there as possible as the family track record suggests he might not be here much longer to share his magic.
Like every other Eels fan I hope that Mr Everett's fears are unfounded-in case I didn't make it clear this is a magnificent book and I strongly recommend you buy it whether you are a dedicated fan, a casual observer or have never even heard of the man-if it introduces you to his music then your money will be well spent.
Oh and any guy who does a Christmas song and introduces the middle solo with "Baby Jesus-born to rock" is worth treasuring in my book....
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Madness, music and crazy girls, 16 Jan 2009
By 
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
A musician like Mark Oliver Everett -- aka "E" of the Eels -- could only be expected to write a rock biography like no other. And "Things the Grandchildren Should Know" lives up to that challenge by being part musical journey, part contemplation of crazy love, and partly a bittersweet life story full of losses.

Everett's family was the typical nuclear family of the times, but with an undercurrent of tragedy -- his withdrawn father died early, his mother didn't truly involve herself in raising her kids, and his sister got a head start on her downward spiral.

Everett himself got into trouble, acquired a rotten reputation and dated some incredibly weird girls ("my sister Liz came back from an AA meeting one day and told me that my first girlfriend was now a suicidal, alcoholic lesbian"), even as making music in his closet became the private passion of his life. When he could think of no other way of getting somewhere else, he chose to turn his music into a career.

Unsurprisingly, he struggled during the days of hair-metal. But as more raw, real music became big, Everett's unique brand of rock began to force its way into alt-stardom. But this couldn't bring him love -- and it couldn't save his sister from her copious inner demons, or his mother from lung cancer.

Reading "Things the Grandchildren Should Know" is not much like reading a straight biography.It's more like having a long, rambling, multifaceted conversation with Everett in a coffee shop, where he attempts to tell you his life story, but sometimes he keeps getting sidetracked by his tales of crazy girlfriends and meditations on life in general.

And he comes across well here -- a guy who has known plenty of tragedy, but still has his wry sense of humour intact. There's little bitterness towards his "crazy girls" or his immature mother, and he's even willing to talk about his now-embarrassing adolescence (complete with humiliating incidents like the "bloody sweatshirt" incident).

But while the first half of the book is a bit fragmented, the second half snaps together into a quiet, meditative cruise through Everett's life. An artist's struggles to keep his work from being put into car commercials is smoothly wound together with his personal struggles, including the tragic loss of his sister and mother -- and how he immortalized them in his work.

Fortunately Everett never becomes maudlin or depressing. He has plenty of witty stories that speckle the text, whether it's the controversy over his "obscene" songs or a story about his mother's really, really old boyfriend ("The Wright brothers? Oh yeah! I used to know Orville"). Not to mention his hilarious kooky ex-wife, who first greeted him with the words, "You are not beautiful!"

"Things the Grandchildren Should Know" seamlessly mingles Mark Oliver Everett's life story with his musings on life (and crazy women), his witty prose, and his artistic journey.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars inspiring, beautiful read from an inspiring, beautiful musician!, 11 Aug 2011
I recently went to an Eels gig at the 02 in Leeds. I had heard a bit of their music before, but wasn't a major fan. The gig was awesome. Then i started listening to all E's music...each and every song beautiful. Such an honest musician and an honest and inspiring man. My brother gave me this book after I started getting into the band. Took me about 2 days to read. No one would be able to put this book down. I found his writing style so refreshing and genuine and it's the most inspiring thing I've ever read. Me and my bf recently broke up and I've been going through some tough home life - what I'd consider a difficult patch in my life. After reading this though it put everything in perspective - you know what I have a lot to be happy about. E has been through so much tragedy in his life, but he has turned this into something positive - his beautiful music and this beautiful piece of writing. I can not recommend this enough, particularly if you're going through some tough times atm. After reading this you'll feel that bit more positive and think you know what if he can make something of his life with everything he's been through, why on earth can't I!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For E's a jolly good fellow, 15 Mar 2008
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Had I not been a fan of Mark Oliver Everett I probably would not have read this book. He has an ability in his lyrics so cut past pedantic over-elaboration to get to the heart of issues with great clarity using simple language. This book is similarly filled with pithy descriptions of horrible feelings out of which his unending optimism is revealed. Peculiar as it may seem (and perhaps a little disturbing) I found the final third of the book the least gripping. In this phase he seems have developed a more informed constructive view of the world and his place in it. Understandably he seems more versed in pain and distress. His descriptions are moving and poignant without being mawkish or masochistic.

On a macro level he describes beautifully the effects of absent parents (physically or emotionally) on the development of children. They are too young to lead themselves and get mucked up if their leaders (parents) are too afraid, disinterested, distracted or whatever, to take this responsibility.

This is a treat showing an honest human and constructive person struggling with his (over)sensitivity and insecurity. I genuinely believe that this book should be considered for the English Curriculum in secondary (High) schools as a joint language and Personal Development text. Well done E, the world IS a better place thanks to this book!
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