The Last Holiday: A Memoir Hardcover – 5 Jan 2012
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One of the great pioneers of late-twentieth-century music. --Independent
For more than two decades, [Gil Scott-Heron] has been committed to examining those facts of the human condition that most of us would rather forget . . . he is an artist who has crafted witty but crucial insights for Black America. --Washington Post
The formative incidents of Scott-Heron's life are placed in their cultural and historical contexts with great delicacy and precision. --Ben Thompson, Sunday Telegraph
This memoir reads a bit like Langston Hughes filtered through the scratchy and electrified sensibilities of John Lee Hooker, Dick Gregory and Spike Lee . . . about his own music, he could not be more simple or elegant. "I was trying to get people who listened to me," he writes, "to realise that they were not alone." --Dwight Garner, New York Times
Scott-Heron is such a fine writer . . . As readers and fans alike, we are left to mourn the passing of surely, the least likely pop star ever, one with a truly brilliant mind. --Rob Fitzpatrick, Sunday Times
Engaging and immensely human . . . Much like his poetry, Scott-Heron's style is spare and effective, offering up jagged observations on fame, friendship and political and racial injustice. --Fiona Sturges, Independent on Sunday
An impressively lucid book . . . both candid and guarded . . . his final admissions are heart-rending. --Metro
A delight, full of with and alliteration and studded with passages of verse . . . it is a heartbreaking read as the last testament of a much-loved man, but it should certainly be read. --Herald
Scott-Heron's memoir comes beautifully to life when talking about other musicians. --Telegraph Review
'Leave it to Scott-Heron to save some of his best for last. This posthumously published memoir is an elegiac culmination to his musical and literary career. He's a real writer, a word man, and it is as wriggling and vital in its way as Bob Dylan's Chronicles: Volume One.' New York Times --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Through the exploration of Gil's past, the reader becomes enriched about how a seemingly unique writer and artist shared the same dilemmas at times as so-called ordinary people. We learn of Gil's upbringing, and read hints of where certain aspects of the 'Scott' character may have originated.
Recollections are as diverse as they are insightful, from Gil's apperance on a Glasgow television show to talk of his footballing father, to the rather more alarming episodes where he suffers a stroke and recalls the aftermath of his mother's death.
Throughout there are examples of his sharp and intellectual wit and understanding of what goes on behind the American facade we see looking in from outside.
However complex the story becomes, the return to the relationship with Stevie over his career until 1981 anchors the text.
At just over 40 chapters this is an enthralling dip into the life of a man who really should have been given more recognition. Though it is poignant that part of Gil Scott-Heron's story be told after his passing, there remains a lingering appetite to find out more.
I for one can only hope that any future texts on the life of Mr.Scott-Heron will be as insightful as this.
We all know what a huge figure Gil Scott-Heron was, his huge strengths and his considerable human failings. Because the story is largely an account of his career up to and including the successful campaign to establish Martin Luther-King Day [spearheaded by Stevie Wonder, but in which GSH played no small role] it tends to play up his strengths and achievements, and glosses over the huge problems of his later years: drink, drugs, relationship conflicts, prison. Those, of course, were accounted for in his final, visceral album.
What is there is an inspiring account of a young man who, brought up by his mother and grandmother, went on to be a trailblazer: a Black student in a mostly-white educational world, a leading campus activist, a published poet and novelist before he was 20, a key cross-genre figure in music who embraced jazz, funk, soul, and - in his early fusion of poetry and music - became the male midwife of rap.
There is self-mythologising here, and self-justification, but also self-criticism, some silly macho moments [involving drink, cars, guns], some strangely ambiguous attitudes to women [revering women in his family, sometimes dismissive of many others], and an odd mix of styles - from stoned consciousness-streaming to brief moments of semi-fiction to poetry to almost journalistic verite.Read more ›
I've been a big fan of GSH since I first heard 'The Bottle' in the 1970's, one of the most soulful, haunting but beautiful records that I have ever listened to. Over the years, I have bought lots of his music including his last cd 'I'm New Here' which I loved and would recommend. Incidentally I was due to photograph him at Bestival in the September before he passed away. To me, the book lacks both the quality, honesty, humour and grittiness that I was expecting to encounter and that comes through in his songwriting and delivery.
I was hoping to learn much more about GSH as a person from the book, about his problems and how they were manifested, about his frailties and how they were formed and his political views and associations. Unfortunately, other than around his schooling I learned very little, most of the other stuff covered is just skirted over. To me, it reads like it was written just to fill the Scott Heron coffers once he had passed, and as I touched on earlier there is nothing wrong with that either, I just feel that we learn little from this book about this giant of music, culture and social commentary. That said; may he Rest In Peace.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was a good read. I stayed interested throughout and it was interesting to learn more about the early life of Gil Scott-Heron. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Jill
Bought this for my husband but it looks so interesting I think I will read it myself, after he's read it of course.Published on 29 Dec. 2013 by love books
'The Last Holiday' is a snapshot of. Gil Scott-Heron at the peak of his powers as a writer and musician - whilst morbid curiosity makes me want to know more about his later life -... Read morePublished on 24 Dec. 2012 by vipey
Black Dylan? Godfather Of Rap? Gil scott Heron was labelled with many names during a sporadic 40 year career. Read morePublished on 13 Aug. 2012 by The Music Doctor