THE DEVIL, ME, AND JERRY LEE by Linda Gail Lewis


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The seemingly unedited, colloquial catalogue of Jerry Lee Lewis’s sister Linda Gail’s snapshot memories. Her brother’s fast rise to fame from 1950s-era Louisiana sharecropper poverty, his family background (marriage between cousins was not forbidden), and his roller coaster career as rock ‘n” roll was kicking its way into the culture and recording artists began riding high on the wave of fame—all justify this haplessly informal reminiscence. Lewis touches on all of those potential themes yet ultimately abandons each of them for other moments which she, like a would-be debutante, uses to launch her own coming out. Alluding to the raw energy that informed Jerry Lee’s early talent, she offers vignettes of his childhood escapades in which she figured. Yet while Lewis claims to share his rollicking bravado, particularly when it comes to their shared sexual insatiability, little of her story manages to evoke a portrait of the author beyond her sidekick role with Jerry. Had she chosen to write more fully about almost anything here—her relationship with Jerry Lee, their parallels, or even their differences—then maybe we wouldn—t feel quite so compelled to believe that his life was the one she really wanted. Eventually she does realize her own talents, though we—re given few glimpses of the start of her singing career. By contrast, we—re told how, one day, Jerry just walked up to the piano and started playing, “no lessons, no reason for him to be able to do it.” Living in her brother’s shadow for an entire lifetime, Lewis has also chronicled her own story—without enough accompanying insights. (12 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Dec. 14th, 1998
ISBN: 1-56352-526-7
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Longstreet
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1998