A vibrantly self-aware rock memoir buzzing with music, drugs, sisterhood, and blissful redemption.

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ALL I EVER WANTED

A ROCK 'N' ROLL MEMOIR

The former bassist for the Go-Go’s chronicles her life before and after stardom.

In this surprisingly revealing memoir, Valentine recalls her childhood in Austin, Texas, raised by a single English expat mother who treated her like one of her druggy pals. She was an early experimenter with drugs and sex, and at age 12, she had to travel to California to have an abortion. A televised 1973 performance by Suzi Quatro inspired Valentine to dream of creating “a kickass band with a gang of like-minded girls and claim the life I wanted for myself.” In 1980, after gigs with several smaller bands and a few years playing guitar, Valentine met Charlotte Caffey, who founded the Go-Go’s in 1978, and she soon became the band’s replacement bassist. Fueled by a heady combination of cocaine and steely determination, Valentine jumped right in to play a series of sold-out early shows. The author draws from impeccably archived personal journals, band itineraries, and Filofax calendars to recall her time with the band from its inception to peak popularity. Her whirlwind path to fame was also littered with dysfunction, especially her drinking and rampant drug use, which coincided with skyrocketing record sales. A crushing band breakup in 1985—fueled by a “deep disconnect between the way we saw ourselves and the way we were presented to the public”—was as brutally humbling as her time in recovery. Valentine doesn’t skimp on the details of both the raucous partying and the many mistakes and failings that chastened her as a woman and a musician. Her candid narration is confident and consistently infused with personality, and a generous section of photographs illustrates her chronology. Despite the Go-Go’s’ rough edges and ups and downs, Valentine, now 61, acknowledges their unique all-female presence in rock history, and she concludes with updates on reunion tours and hope for the future. One of Kirkus and Rolling Stone’s Best Music Books of 2020.

A vibrantly self-aware rock memoir buzzing with music, drugs, sisterhood, and blissful redemption.

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4773-1233-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Univ. of Texas

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2020

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A self-aware confessional from a successful and controversial musician.

REMEMBERINGS

The Grammy-winning Irish singer/songwriter looks back on her eventful life.

Promising candor and clarity, O’Connor (b. 1966) opens with a caveat that her story only details lucid periods of her life when she was psychologically “present.” Omitting hazy years in which she drifted off “somewhere else inside myself”—material some readers may wish she included—the author shares pivotal milestones (raising four children) and entertaining anecdotes. O’Connor vividly recalls an abusive Catholic childhood in Dublin with a cruel, unstable mother. As a rebellious teenager, she was sent to a reform asylum, where her love for music became the ultimate refuge, leading to band gigs and eventually a record deal in London in 1985. The Lion and the Cobra achieved gold status, and O’Connor describes the development of her persona: shaved head, baggy clothing, and stormy, antagonistic, always forthright demeanor. The author addresses her mental health challenges and experimentation with sex and drugs (“In the locked ward where they put you if you’re suicidal, there’s more class A drugs than in Shane MacGowan’s dressing room”) as well as two iconic moments in her career: her smash-hit cover of the Prince-penned “Nothing Compares 2 U” and her notorious performance on Saturday Night Live in 1992, when she ripped up a photo of Pope John Paul II. “A lot of people say or think that tearing up the pope’s photo derailed my career. That’s not how I feel about it,” she writes. Rather, it allowed her to return to her roots as a live performer instead of remaining on the pop-star trajectory (“you have to be a good girl for that”). In cathartic sections, O’Connor considers the era leading up to that appearance as a personal death, with the years following a kind of “rebirth.” Though she touches on her agoraphobia and later psychological issues, with which many of her fans will be familiar, the final third of the memoir sputters somewhat, growing less revelatory than earlier passages.

A self-aware confessional from a successful and controversial musician.

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-42388-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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