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Things the Grandchildren Should Know Hardcover – October 14, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School—Everett, also known as E, front man for the alt-rock EELS, has written a compelling memoir in which it is easy to see the songwriter in the author. The songs often feature catchy melodies and lyrics that are variously dark, witty, or just quirky, while the book is a quick read, both funny and tragic, with a distinctive voice: honest, self-deprecating, wistful. The author tells a few stories from his youth—his first drum set, a humiliating teacher, his obsession with Lennon's Plastic Ono Band, a plane crash, his sullen teenage years. At 18, he discovered the dead body of his father, the quantum physicist Hugh Everett. Not long after, he headed for Los Angeles, where he worked a succession of nothing jobs while writing and recording songs on a four-track tape recorder. As he was gaining fame as an alternative rocker, tragedies continued to haunt him. His sister and mother died within months of one another, and friends and fellow musicians followed. Despite the title (also an EELS song), Everett has no children, much less grandchildren, but he says, "it only takes a second for your life to change in huge ways." Fans will certainly want to read this, but so will anyone interested in the music business or just in how one interesting guy lives life from day to day, trying to understand who he is and how he got there.—Sarah Flowers, Santa Clara County Library, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The songwriter and lead singer of indie rock band the Eels relates his dysfunctional family’s tragedies—father’s death from heart failure at 51, sister Liz’s suicide, and mother’s demise from lung cancer—as well as his own trials with suicidal tendencies, dissolute teen years, and times when he didn’t know what to do with himself. His outlook is often bleak but not without hope since “some of the most horrible moments of my life have led to some of the best.” Growing up, he realized his real passion was for music but hadn’t a clue how that would work out in the real world. One day, on a whim, he left his Virginia home and headed to Los Angeles, where he knew no one and nothing about the music industry. A big chunk of the book covers his various musical experiences and the people he met through them. Quite funny about his often absurd life as an independent musician, Everett gives readers a fly-on-the-wall’s view of the music business that anyone interested in it will enjoy. --June Sawyers

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; First Edition edition (October 14, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312385137
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312385132
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #508,106 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Karie Hoskins VINE VOICE on November 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Thanks to an Early Reviewers program, reading "Things the Grandchildren Should Know" was a new experience for me. As with most people, the biographies I read are always about someone I know a great deal about, or have heard of, or at least have some interest in.

I can honestly say I've never heard of Mark Oliver Everett (sorry, Mark) or the music group he founded, the EELS. But when I received this book in the mail and read the praise on the back and the first page that proclaims, "The following is a true story. Some names and hair colors have been changed.", I was all in.

Before going further, I did make myself a promise that I wouldn't use the power of the Internet to find out ANYTHING about Everett...I would only learn about him through his own words. (Although once his career started to take off and he started to meet more and more famous people - I was sorely tempted.)

And so I learned about this very thoughtful and very funny man through the lens with which he sees his life and world.

I say funny even though much that I found funny was in a sort of startled, shocked way...words that caught me off guard, forcing me to go back and confirm that I'd read what I thought I had. The first part of many of his anecdotes lull you into thinking all is well...and then his last few words practically grab on to your eyeballs.

"It's weird hanging out and sleeping in the same room with two people you've never spoken to and aren't allowed to speak to, but I was trained pretty well for this by being in the same room with my father all those years."

And: "At the end of the summer, which I had already started referring to as The Summer of Love, I drove my gold '71 Chevy Nova away from home for the first time.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Seth Triezenberg on February 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Picked this book up while visiting London. Read it in a day. Couldn't put it down. It is a great read. I am a huge Eels fan. It helped me understand more about my favorite songs and favorite band. I think only a casual fan would find this book both interesting and amusing.

E (Mark) writes about death, music and how he has been able to find satisfaction in life. He has a dry but very funny sense of humor about his life and the world at large.

I gave it to my wife to read and she was hooked in a few pages.

Do yourself a favor and pick this book up.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By J. Clarke on June 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've been an Eels fan since Beautiful Freak came out, and have since purchased the catalogue as the records came out. I wouldn't necessarily consider myself a 'superfan', but I definitely have an appreciation for the fact that each record is varied, is obviously sincere, and carries with it a heavy dose of integrity (something that is more than rare in music these days).

When I found out that Mark Everett had written a book, I was intrigued to say the least. With such scattered & quirky musical ambitions, I was sure that he would have some interesting things to say. I underestimated how interesting!! I'm sure there had to be a certain amount of disconnect inherent in the writing of this book, as it would be more than difficult to explore the events throughout his life without it. That said, I definitely appreciate the witty sense of humour and sarcasm throughout the book, a sort of tongue-in-cheek walk through a man's life as he explores all of the ups & downs & absurdities that life has to offer.

I walked into this book an Eels fan. I walked out with a deep appreciation of the author and all that he has had to endure to bring us something real, both in his personal life and as a musician.

If you're into Eels at all, you'll be glad you picked up the book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Tim CH on April 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Sure, the title to this review might sound like hyperbole, but I honestly cannot think of a book I enjoyed as much as this one for the past several years.

A somewhat rambly memoir, it represents a chronological description of Mark Everett's very interesting life. From his childhood, and his relationship with his family (including his detached father, genius physicist Hugh Everett) through to his touring life and inspiration for his band, the Eels, this book represents a fascinating insight into E's experiences. His self-reflection is thought-provoking and allows us just a small peek into what it's like inside his world.

As a long-time Eels fan I found this book particularly engaging due to Everett's discussion of inspiration for song-writing and arrangement. As I read through the chapters, I could remember hearing songs for the first time, or seeing new arrangements at the shows. This gave the book an added dimension which I honestly hadn't expected.

This is a very honest, well-written book that I think will appeal to music fans and others alike.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 29, 2009
Format: Paperback
A musician like Mark Oliver Everett -- aka "E" of the Eels -- could only be expected to write a rock biography like no other. And "Things the Grandchildren Should Know" lives up to that challenge by being part musical journey, part contemplation of crazy love, and partly a bittersweet life story full of losses.

Everett's family was the typical nuclear family of the times, but with an undercurrent of tragedy -- his withdrawn father died early, his mother didn't truly involve herself in raising her kids, and his sister got a head start on her downward spiral.

Everett himself got into trouble, acquired a rotten reputation and dated some incredibly weird girls ("my sister Liz came back from an AA meeting one day and told me that my first girlfriend was now a suicidal, alcoholic lesbian"), even as making music in his closet became the private passion of his life. When he could think of no other way of getting somewhere else, he chose to turn his music into a career.

Unsurprisingly, he struggled during the days of hair-metal. But as more raw, real music became big, Everett's unique brand of rock began to force its way into alt-stardom. But this couldn't bring him love -- and it couldn't save his sister from her copious inner demons, or his mother from lung cancer.

Reading "Things the Grandchildren Should Know" is not much like reading a straight biography.It's more like having a long, rambling, multifaceted conversation with Everett in a coffee shop, where he attempts to tell you his life story, but sometimes he keeps getting sidetracked by his tales of crazy girlfriends and meditations on life in general.

And he comes across well here -- a guy who has known plenty of tragedy, but still has his wry sense of humour intact.
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