Things the Grandchildren Should Know
Mark Oliver Everett
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Buy *Things the Grandchildren Should Know* by Mark Oliver Everett online

Things the Grandchildren Should Know
Mark Oliver Everett
Thomas Dunne Books
256 pages
October 2008
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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The title itself is an ironic glimpse inside the author, and once you begin this biography/memoir you'll get the joke. He has no children and hence can't have grandchildren. That is the attitude and and emotion that charges these pages. The author fronted a mid-90s indie band called the EELS (the caps are his), an experimental project that brought together disparate elements to create a sort of uplifting rock sound.

This is the author's tale of his simultaneous rise to fame and fall into depression. After moving to Los Angeles to pursue his music, he spent years in nasty boarding rooms while being rejected across the board from everyone who heard his tapes. He started to gain some momentum and would ultimately go onto big success on major labels, writing music for films like American Beauty and Shrek and touring the world.

But at the same time, his life was evaporating around him. His father, virtually a stranger to him because there was never any communication, died in his early 50s. Then his sister Liz committed suicide by drugs. His mother ultimately succumbed to cancer while Mark held her hand. Additionally, many of his musician friends died (including the gifted songwriter Elliot Smith).

So, the story is about a young artist trying to fight his way through these horrific moments to pursue his art. It is his art, his music, that ultimately saves him, because he's able to transfer these experiences onto tape.

It is a dark book and a very honest one. You sometimes wonder if what God gives with one hand, he takes away with the other. Read this and you'll believe.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Steven Rosen, 2008

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