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Things the Grandchildren Should Know 

Mark Oliver Everett


Things the Grandchildren Should Know
Mark Oliver Everett
(Thomas Dunne Books)
You do a lot of flipping back to reread passages in this memoir from the founder and front man of the American music group, Eels. Not because it’s written unclearly or the ideas are difficult, but because of sheer disbelief that so much misfortune can befall one man, namely illnesses and deaths of people closest to him (his family) and failed relationships (mostly with women, but artistically, too). The effect of Everett’s tone, which moves from dispassionate to impassioned as the story of his life progresses, leads to many “Wait, what was that?” moments. Of course, then the rereading follows. With rock, drug or (extreme) travel memoirs, the storyteller faces a dual danger. On one hand, he/she ends up presenting a list, or litany, of the craziness without any real reflection on its meaning, or flicks at it before getting back to the action. On the other hand, the analysis can become so prevalent and forceful it overwhelms the narrative with melodrama and banners waving that declare “this is the universal I want you to take from this.” Everett, or E to his friends, family and fellow musicians, does neither. He walks the line between those poles and delivers a memoir anyone interested in not just music but mental illness and survival through creativity will find invaluable. -Sean Flinn

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