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Saturday, August 11, 2012

"Everyone Loves You When You're Dead", inside celebrities' mind

Everyone Loves You When You're Dead:  Journeys into Fame and Madness- Neil Strauss

Can you imagine? Having the chance of interviewing every major star of the music industry, among many other celebrities. Writing articles/critics/reviews on music and being read by milions and respected by thousands. I would love to have Neil Strauss' job. I would kill for it. That was my thought... until I read this book.

"Everyone Loves You..." is a collection of snippets from Strauss' most significant interviews (up to 228), to an impressive amount of music superstars from all times, other icons of popular culture and some other people, in one way or another related with them. This book might be then, although heavily deconstructed (again, this are just parts of interviews) one of the most amazing works of modern journalism. It is.

But even despite the numbers of surreal conversations, unbeliavable situations, unexpected adventures or grotesque, absurd moments Strauss' witnessees or takes part on it justifies the reading,  as it is amusing and immensely entertaining book, that wouldn't do complete justice to "Everyone Loves You...". This work offers a lot more.

Strauss' work is even more significant as an outstanding, gigantic task, on deconstructing the minds of celebrities. In his interviews, the author is not behaving just as a journalist, but more like a psychologist. And what he shows is basically, that fame and happiness are not synonymous. At all. As a matter of fact, the majority of celebrities on the book are suffering the consequences of their fame. Some (many) are "spoiled brats", pretentious and, quite frankly, unbearable. A few are directly stupid (look among the younger stars, wannabe celebrities or gangstas). Some built themselves an "Ivory Tower" from where nobody can disturb them (sometimes seems to work). But many are heavily traumatised people, with huge inner conflicts derived from a difficult past, familiar troubles, drugs, alcohol, etc. In a vast amount of these situations, fame didn't help a bit to deal with their issues. With the few exceptions of musicians that were capable to deal with their demons and now are looking fine, I would say the regular trend is the contrary: troubled person + fame= utter chaos. Among this "madness parade", the few "sane" celebrities interviewed on the book, happy people at control of their life, are wonderful and interesting counterpoints. Leonard Cohen, David Bowie, Springsteen, Bono, Sacha Baron Cohen or Jay Leno were among this "category".

Several interviews were just amazing (hilarious, compelling, moving, deep, shocking...). The level of intimacy that Strauss' achieves with his counterpart, or just the genuine interest of the conversation will blow your mind. The ones with Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails, Dave Pirner from Soul Asylum (desperate loneliness of the two), Marilyn Manson, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, John Hartford, the aforementioned Baron Cohen, Slipknot, Curtis Mayfield, Herny Grimes. I could go on and on... If I had to make a little complaint, is that there were too many hip-hop/artists (the gangstas) and a couple of weird coverages, the one about the wax figures in particular, that could have been dropped from the compilation, so the reading would have been even more vivid with less pages. But I do understand why are they included and that this is just my opinion.

In the other hand, there's the end of the book. I'm still mesmerized by the story of Paul Nelson (looking for his biography right away). That and the epilogue summarizes the brilliance of this book. Must-read, for music lovers, celebrity lovers, celebrities and wannabes. For anyone.

SCORE: 8,75/10

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