This is a poor autobiography. It was a half-hearted attempt by a man that has lived one of the more fascinating lives ever. The first half of the book is a letter written to his son as an explanation of his beginnings and some of the bigger lessons that he learned on the way. This changes about a third of the way through the book to become a set of personal antidotes that have impacted Franklin, many of them being boastful “I told them, but they didn’t listen” style of antidotes. I enjoyed the book and do not regret reading it, but he could have done better.
I don’t know why I decided to buy and read a book about NOFX. They are a band that I’ve viewed as my favorite punk band since the early 90’s, but that puts them on the same level as my favorite progressive doom metal band (Tiamat) or my favorite insect (any of them but the seed tick…fuckers). Buying a book by them really isn’t something I would normally do. I never even watched their tv show when it was on, so why would I buy their book? No idea, but I did. And I read it. And I loved it. I haven’t even bought or read Neil Peart’s books yet, and he is my favorite musician of any genre.
The book is written by the members of the band, and they take turns telling their stories, sometimes the same stories from different perspectives. It was a brilliant way to tell the true events of the band. Early on you start to see the minds behind the musicians as they relay the events of their lives. I found I liked Melvin and his ability to see through the bull shit while still being willing to dive into the fray. I found Hefe to be almost an innocent bystander to the chaos even though he was undoubtedly a punk even if an accidental one. I found Mike to be an annoying as hell ass hole that is too caught up in himself to see what he himself is doing, yet he is truly the driving force of the band, the dreamer and the dream-maker, so maybe he just sucks as a writer of this kind of work, or maybe he wanted to come off as the annoying punk guy. It was Smelly that really made the book though. Smelly’s story is the story of rock-n-roll, the story of strength and weakness, and the story of endurance. Three times this book brought tears to my eyes, and they were during Smelly’s chapters. I actually had to walk away from the book for a few days due to the strength of the chapter about Joey, a girl he adopted. It wasn’t Mike telling the story about killing his mother or Hefe losing his brother, it was the story about the girl and what she did for Smelly and his father that had me bawling. Now, just to put that in perspective, I read around 50 books a year ranging from classics to pulp (and a lot of horror) and I have only cried during four other books that I can recall: John Adams, A biography on Mark Twain, The Corrections, and Of Mice and Men.
On the other side of things, this book made me laugh out loud over a dozen times also, a much easier task, but one still worth mentioning. The antics of the band is comedy gold, just as many of their lyrics are, and it is always fun to see celebrities (are they celebrities?) as real people. These guys are as real as they come. They are the type of people I would love to sit around with and play chess, drink coffee, or perv on the passing girls, or get totally fucking smashed if Smelly isn’t around. Thanks for sharing guys. You have turned a moderate fan into a passionate one.
I knew the basic premise of this one going in, but I have never seen the movies and knew only the basics. I have to say, for a global phenomenon that this book created, I am rather disappointed. The story held my interest, but the plot was predictable. The book read like a children’s book, but the subject matter was a bit extreme for a children’s book. I felt like it wanted to be Ender’s Game, but Ender’s Game was not a children’s book, it was just a book that children were drawn to. I am in no hurry to read the other two books in the series, but I may pick them up if the mood strikes me.
Having just read this book for the first time, I must say that it wasn’t what I expected. I expected Mr. Twain to take jabs at his fellow Americans by having the Connecticut Yankee being completely out of place amongst the Court and fairly overmatched. What Twain did instead was much more interesting. He had the Yankee be a resourceful and clear-headed fellow that instantly took control of the situation and proceeded to take control of the entire country through use of technology that was far beyond that of the time. Without telling too much of the story here, let me just say that Twain always delivers a good story and a lot on fun. And as always, none of it can be taken seriously.
Having seen the movie, I expected the book to be better than it was. That is not to say it was bad. King is a master of building suspense, and the suspense was captured nicely in the film adaptation. There isn’t a lot to say about this book that hasn’t been said a thousand times. It is King at the top of his game, but I didn’t find it scary, but I can tell he scared himself as he wrote it, and that is pretty awesome.
Annie Wilkes is a great villain. One of King’s strengths is creating complex, realistic villains, and Annie is probably his greatest creation. And the social commentary of a city man being kidnapped and tortured by a country woman is pretty great fun too.