WHATEVER YOU SAY I AM

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF EMINEM

Written from the amen corner, nothing here will perturb the rapper’s worshippers.

Fevered hagiography of the prominent rapper and recent movie star.

Former Rolling Stone editor Bozza’s encounters with Marshall Mathers (Eminem) while writing a 1999 RS cover story form the backbone of this extended profile. At that time, Bozza recalls, Eminem was on the verge of stardom, yet still scuffling and more inclined to let his guard down: “He told me as much as he’d told any journalist . . . to the healthy dismay of his eavesdropping manager.” During their travels together, he observed an Ecstasy-fueled Eminem win over both white and black audiences in different clubs; beyond these sorts of recollections, the text essentially collects sketches and observations documenting Eminem’s rise from late-’90s regional “battle rapper” to parent-scaring boogeyman “Slim Shady,” transformed in 2002 into mainstream media darling by the film 8 Mile. Bozza grasps how Eminem’s mass appeal transcends race and age. The hip-hop community perceives him as having “paid his dues”; the ugly elements of his work resonate with an under-25 generation familiar with promiscuity, substance abuse, and domestic entanglements; and baby boomers embrace him, the author suggests, in order to be associated with youthful hipness. Although Bozza intends this as “an analysis, as much of America as . . . Eminem,” his unabashed sycophancy renders it mainly supportive of his opinion that “Eminem is hip-hop’s signpost artist, the one gifted enough to blend black and white musical and cultural elements without compromising the integrity of the music.” He supports this stance with the accolades of critics like Shelby Steele, only briefly considering and never really refuting the views of those who consider his hero a bully or corporate shill. Eventually, Bozza produces shrewd chapters on the music industry and the evolution of hip-hop in decayed, tense locales like Detroit, but only zeitgeist-chasers and youngsters who love Eminem are likely to make it that far.

Written from the amen corner, nothing here will perturb the rapper’s worshippers.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2003

ISBN: 1-4000-5059-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2003

NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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