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Duff McKagan - Talented Writer
on 20 September 2014
Not quite finished the book yet I felt compelled to post my review. This is a beautifully-written tome, bursting with pathos and humour, told from a self-deprecating viewpoint. I've laughed out loud many times. Some of the writing moved me to tears (mind you, I cry easily... but still...)
Duff appears to know that he's on a fast train to destruction throughout his G n R years but is, until he nearly dies, unable to do anything about it.
Duff comes over as an intelligent guy. It feels like he has done the hard work to become emotionally stable - it shines through in his writing. I bought this straight after reading 'Slash'. To be honest, I did not even know who Duff McKagan was until recently as I was never a big Guns n Roses fan back in the day, thinking I was too cool for school in the late 1980s, favouring The Smiths, Lloyd Cole and, erm, The Smiths... (yes, I was a big fan!)
I love the Slash autobiography - it's a rollicking read and full of detail (some say too much, yet I love it still) but Duff takes time to talk about how things made him FEEL, such as the deaths of two fans at Monsters of Rock. With Duff you feel like he does genuinely care about people. Slash talks constantly about 'some guy', 'some chick', 'some gig', which makes it sound like he doesn't always give a stuff, though I appreciate that his book will have come out of a series of very long interviews with his Rolling Stone mag ghostwriter (who should have edited his work WAY more than he did). Duff is more specific about names and events and is more effusive in his gratitude towards those who helped them.
However, I do get the feeling that Duff holds back in other ways. There's some talk of VD but no real info on the promiscuity; he talks about his drug addiction and alcoholism, but not in intricate detail. Is that necessary? Maybe not, but Slash's book makes you understand the day-to-day realities of being an addict and his dual life: sometimes scoring smack in scuzzy places then being a rock god on stage a few hours later.
However, I appreciate that Duff has tried to write something that has more literary merit than your average rock autobiography. It pitches itself differently. I also suspect it's been very well edited. The role of editing is vastly underrated. It is the king of wordsmithery (and that's probably not even a word!) and I suspect that's been a key to elevating Duff's prose. Still, don't mean to detract from the guy's talent. I think the man can write - and write well.
I wholeheartedly recommended this book, rock fan or not, 'cos it is a story about dreams, ambition, trauma, reality, redemption. And, on the quiet, if you like wry humour, it's a bit of a hoot.