GREAT BALLS OF FIRE: The Uncensored Story of Jerry Lee Lewis by Myra with Murray Silver Lewis

GREAT BALLS OF FIRE: The Uncensored Story of Jerry Lee Lewis

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KIRKUS REVIEW

There's a bizarre blur of viewpoints in this detailed, often maudlin biography of onetime rock-a-billy superstar Lewis: the co-author is much-abused ex-wife Myra, who has found spiritual salvation (Jerry still hasn't); the narration, however, is all in the breathless third-person of fan magazines (with imaginary dialogue); oddest of all, Jerry himself seems to have cooperated, more or less, on the project--as have many family members. So, as the book follows the wild, gifted piano-player from Natchez clubs through early-1950s teenage marriages to Sun Records in Memphis, Jerry is sometimes a boorish Sinner, sometimes a beleaguered Superhero, sometimes just a regular mixed-up guy. About Jerry's music, there is no critical judgment, just awe. (When ""Whole Lot of Shakin'"" is first performed, ""they had found the Lost Chord."") And the primary focus, not surprisingly, comes to rest on: Jerry's courtship of his 13-year-old cousin Myra, a secret rape victim (""What chance did damaged goods have for happiness when all manhood reviled the deflowered maiden?""); the scandal that broke when this child-bride marriage was revealed (""His faith questioned, his marriage belied, his talents trampled on . . .""); Jerry's fall from brief superstardom (""Mutiny had robbed him of his following, and piracy among his producers rotted the planks beneath him""); and the deterioration of the Jerry/Myra marriage--especially after his slow, country-crossover comeback, the drowning death of their first child, and Jerry's failure to do right by God. (""Myra was a constant reminder of his covenant. She became the scapegoat for his frustrations and the lamb for his sacrifice. . . . The Lord withdrew His spirit from Jerry, but saved Myra from a terrible fate."") A strange, wretchedly written, variously subjective memoir-cum-biography, then--made stranger still by the PR announcement, ""Jerry Lee and Myra Lewis to tour""; but fervently loyal fans, especially those who share Myra's born-again beliefs, will find this a generous mix of domestic woes, music-biz wrangles, and emotional/spiritual stewings.

Pub Date: Oct. 7th, 1982
Publisher: Morrow