BREAK ON THROUGH by James Riordan

BREAK ON THROUGH

The Life and Death of Jim Morrison
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Tortured visionary and bumbling drunk--two sides of ``The Lizard King'' that emerge from this lengthy but less-than-probing biography of the late rock star. Riordan (a Rolling Stone contributor) and Prochnicky (a self-professed veteran Morrison scholar) attempt to retrace Morrison's ``aural, visual, and psychological journey'' through ``a fun house mirror'' of Sixties-style metaphysics. They recount Morrison's repressive childhood under a Navy captain father, his youth as school misfit and troublemaker, his post-college life as a Venice beach-bum, and his subsequent descent into an acid- inspired ``spiritual netherworld.'' Morrison comes across as an insecure but creatively driven man prone to extreme mood swings, and an emotional manipulator who ``enjoyed dangling people from his own self-styled parapet.'' In some respects, he seems a hippie Oscar Wilde who strove for recognition as a serious poet only after establishing a notorious persona. But it is less the star and more the martyr that surfaces here, with gruesome accounts of Morrison being beaten by cops, lambasted by finicky critics, verbally abused by audiences, and incessantly drained by a neurotic girlfriend. Riordan and Prochnicky try to bolster the Morrison mythos by mentioning his love of Nietzsche, romantic attachment to shamanism, undying interest in film history, and gift for surrealist thinking that nurtured his work but abetted his ``failing to draw the line between art and life, business and pleasure, self-instruction and self-destruction.'' Unfortunately, they sidestep any fresh or bold interpretations of Morrison's mystique, resorting to redundant drugstore psychologisms and a disturbing zeal to discount any allegations of Morrison's thinly veiled homosexual side. Worse, the authors promise to delve into Morrison's subtle lyrics but opt instead for shallow and rushed summaries. Candid and articulate but essentially a star-struck reminiscence that fails to transcend the packaged legend. For more compact and worthy biographies of Morrison, see David Dalton's Mr. Mojo Risin' and Dylan Jones's Jim Morrison (p. 466). (Twenty-five b&w photographs--not seen.)

Pub Date: June 13th, 1991
ISBN: 0-688-08829-5
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1991




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