From Publishers Weekly
When a celebrity not only refuses to cooperate with a would-be biographer but persuades most of his inner circle not to grant interviews either, the writer's task is much more daunting. In trying to account for the 40-year career of eccentric singer/songwriter (and occasional film actor) Tom Waits, Hoskyns (Hotel California
) puts his subject's reluctance front and center, openly speculating on the rumors that Waits's wife has engineered his withdrawal from his early associates. The armchair psychology extends to Waits's idiosyncratic public persona, but is buttressed with interviews with as many people as Hoskyns could get to talk, a few conversations he had with Waits for magazine pieces and excerpts from other articles over the years. For the most part, Waits's musical transformation from hip troubadour to far-out maverick is well contextualized, but when Hoskyns's resources are stretched thin in this overlong book, his pronouncements become less compelling. Readers may not particularly care what the biographer thinks of Waits's last album, for example, nor need a complete set list from a random concert. Despite these problems, however, Hoskyns deserves credit for trying to give Waits the critical scrutiny his work deserves. (Apr. 14)
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Absolutely outstanding" --Danny Baker, BBC
"[This] book lights up and whirls like one of the greasy carnival rides in Mr. Wait's own sprawling oeuvre" --The New York Times
Hoskyn's superlative overview of one of America's major (though idiosyncratic) popular artists will likely stand as the best book on his life"--Library Journal
"Hoskyns persevered in writing the first Waits biography, netting fascination firsthand stories, terrific photographs, and fanatically detailed information about studio sessions and concerts...the result is a respectful, entertaining, and revelatory portrait set within a vivid cultural context."--Booklist
"It's about time [Waits] received biographical homage from a rock writer of the stature of Hoskyns."--Stephen Poole, The Guardian
"Comprehensive and judicious. [Waits] could not have found a more respectful, sympathetic and knowledgeable biographer if he'd chosen him himself."--Mick Brown, The Word
"Thanks to his diligence. His Californian connections and some magazine interviews he conducted long ago with Waits, Hoskyn's life comes across as convincingly lifelike."--Robert Sandall, The Sunday Times
From the Trade Paperback edition.