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47 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new Mark Oliver Everett Fan
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...
Published on November 21, 2008 by Karie Hoskins

versus
1 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Amateurish
This is what happens when someone who's never been a reader, never studied literature or writing, up and decides he should write a book for the rest of us to read. Despite "getting off an occasional one liner" (as another reviewer wrote) the writing is mostly amateurish, full of empty and downright corny clichés, never penetrating or insightful, and his tone reeks...
Published on March 27, 2011 by Gaya Roamart


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47 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new Mark Oliver Everett Fan, November 21, 2008
By 
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. I had bought the car that I called "Old Gold" complete with a stop sign used in place of its rusted-out floorboard, for a hundred bucks from my hot, blonde cousin Jennifer, who years later would die on the plane that hit the Pentagon September 11, 2001. She was a flight attendant. Sent a postcard from Dulles Airport that morning that read "Ain't Life Grand?" in big letters on the front."

Weren't expecting that, were you?

And some things just made me smile. "Reviews don't really mean anything if you look at the history of rock journalism. They usually can't tell what will stand the test of time when they review something brand new on a tight deadline, but I'm going to let myself feel good about this. (Book reviewers: this doesn't mean you, of course. I have nothing but the utmost respect for what you do. How do you like the book so far?)"

But what stands out in this book, this story, this life is Everett's honesty about some of the most difficult, gut wrenching and sometimes embarrassing parts of his life.

"Pretty soon after that, (after his sister Liz attempts suicide) Liz and my mom went out of town to visit relatives and I found my father's dead body lying there sideways on my parents' bed, fully dressed in his usual shirt and tie, with his feet almost on the floor, like he just sat down to die at fifty-one. I tried to learn CPR from the 911 operator on the phone, carrying my father's already-stiff body across the bedroom floor. It was weird touching him. That was the first time we had any physical contact that I could remember, other than the occasional cigarette burn on my arm while squeezing by him in the hallway."

That paragraph, by the way? On page 2.

Everett's way of expressing himself is just so clear and so blunt that his words really hit home.

"Bob Dylan said that, when he was young, he had a secret sense of his destiny. I wish I had something like that, but I didn't. At all. All I had was an aching sense of desperation and an acute cluelessness - a nasty combination."

And even after Everett's career proves to be a pretty solid success, "I still have occasional bouts of desperation where I feel like there's no hope. And I hate going to a new doctor or dentist. Not for the usual reasons, though. It's the part where you fill out the personal information, when I get to, IN CASE OF EMERGENCY, CONTACT: I don't know what to put there, and it makes me really sad and embarrassed. It's the loneliest feeling, having no family. Holidays really suck and I usually try to pretend they're not happening. On the bright side, Christmas shopping is a cinch."

Mark Oliver Everett's memoir is touching, funny, incredibly sad, and self deprecating. ("So what kind of an ego do you have to have to write a book about your life and expect anyone to care? A huge one!")

I enjoyed this book immensely. Not only is the book an excellent read, his song lyrics, even absent of the music behind them, were at turns deeply disturbing and deeply moving. They stand alone as poetry. Lovely, sad, and above all, honest.

Because Everett's main focus is his music, and because this book covers most of his life, the odds that I get to read anything else by him are slim, but if he chooses to write more, I'm in, I'm all in.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must for Eels Fans and Music Fans., February 23, 2008
By 
Seth Triezenberg (Southfield, mi USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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
5.0 out of 5 stars You'll respect the man & the band much more as a result of this book., June 4, 2008
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
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 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I've read in recent years, April 26, 2008
By 
Tim CH (Mountain View, CA) - See all my reviews
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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 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Music, madness and crazy women, September 29, 2009
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. There's little bitterness towards his "crazy girls" or his immature mother, and he's even willing to talk about his now-embarrassing adolescence (complete with humiliating incidents like the "bloody sweatshirt" incident).

But while the first half of the book is a bit fragmented, the second half snaps together into a quiet, meditative cruise through Everett's life. An artist's struggles to keep his work from being put into car commercials is smoothly wound together with his personal struggles, including the tragic loss of his sister and mother -- and how he immortalized them in his work.

Fortunately Everett never becomes maudlin or depressing. He has plenty of witty stories that speckle the text, whether it's the controversy over his "obscene" songs or a story about his mother's really, really old boyfriend ("The Wright brothers? Oh yeah! I used to know Orville"). Not to mention his hilarious kooky ex-wife, who first greeted him with the words, "You are not beautiful!"

"Things the Grandchildren Should Know" seamlessly mingles Mark Oliver Everett's life story with his musings on life (and crazy women), his witty prose, and his artistic journey.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than music ....., June 10, 2008
By 
I loved this book. I admire E's (Mark Oliver Everett) willingness to open both his life, his heart and his soul to us via this book. It is one of the most personal, candid, and frank autobiographies I have every read. While I was reading it I felt I was in a very private conversation with the artist and author. His music speaks volumes to me and I am touched that the creation of his music touched him also. This is a book for the real music fan that understands music can be real nourishment and a savior for the human soul and the human spirit.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars worth reading, November 3, 2008
By 
Tess (Richmond, Vatican City State (Holy See)) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
the downside: it's a fast read. I finished it in a night. what else? well, unless he tells us more we're never going to know anything else about Liz, or his mom or even much about his dad, and that's a loss. oh yes, his mom's death (sorry if that's a spoiler) is tough to read, and can really get in your head.

the upside: it's a gift; open, honest, real and important because it's open, honest and real. You don't usually get to see the inside of a heart quite this clearly, without also seeing a good amount of blood. But Everett cleans up his own mess and simply stands there and holds out his heart, warm and beating. He lets you look at it and feel it and hold it.
(And this is all metaphorical and sounds disgusting, but) it was lovely.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, whether you're an Eels fan or not, October 17, 2008
By 
Wasn't familiar with the Eels before I picked this up, but heard good things about the book. The intimate look into Everett's troubled yet prodigious life; his raw, subtly humorous voice; and his fantastical personal and rock star journey made for a fast and fascinating read.

Recommend this to fans of Augusten Burroughs. My interest's been piqued to pick up a copy of the Eels' latest hits.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I was given the gift of bone-crushing insecurity.", December 30, 2008
By 
"Things the Grandchildren Should Know" caught my eye on the nonfiction new acquisitions shelf of my local library. Something about the title made me curious but when I picked up the book I had no idea it was a memoir and, for all I knew, it could have been some kind of self-help, advice book. Frankly, I had no idea who Mark Oliver Everett was and had never heard of a singer called "E" or a band called the Eels. It's only in the last few days, in fact, that I've sampled some of Everett's music and I'm still not sure what to think of most of it. I was not overwhelmed by what I heard, but I enjoyed enough of the music to ensure that I will revisit it soon to see if it sticks.

That's the music. The book, though, is definitely a keeper because it reads as one of the more honest family-story exposés that I've read in years. Memoirs are beginning to lose favor with the reading public due to the large number of "pity parties" that have been published in recent years and the fact that several of them have been exposed as complete frauds. "Things the Grandchildren Should Know" is no pity party on the part of Everett. He does not come looking for sympathy or seeking to impress readers by the amount of tragedy he has endured. Rather, he recounts his family history in such a direct, in-your-face style, a style that makes great use of irony and humor when least expected, that the reader often ends up smiling through even the saddest events of Everett family history.

By the time the ride is over, Everett has managed to explain how he became the person he is, where he finds the creative spark for his music and how that music has probably saved his life, and where he plans to go from here.

It is easy to see that Mark Oliver Everett is an extremely talented man, a prolific songwriter with the vision and musical ability to produce recordings that turn his songs into award-winning hits. But Everett grew up in a Washington D.C. suburb as one-quarter of a dysfunctional family headed by a brilliant father, a man who spoke so little to his children and never touched them that he was little more than a physical presence in their home, and a mother who paid little attention to him or his sister. Everett and his sister, Liz, came to rely greatly upon each other but were still emotionally scarred by the seeming indifference of their parents. But, sadly, while Everett was able to save himself through his songs, Liz decided to seek her own relief in whatever drugs she could find.

"Things the Grandchildren Should Know" is the story of a musician who achieved the kind of success that he hardly dared dream might be possible as a kid. The remarkable thing is that he achieved that success while his family was going to pieces around him to such an extent that one day, still a young man, he was stunned to find himself its only survivor. Eels fans probably know much of Everett's background already through his autobiographical songs but casual fans, or readers unfamiliar with the music, likely will be surprised that so successful an entertainer can express such an unpretentious view of life - and make us believe him.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intense., December 27, 2008
By 
Nick (Switzerland) - See all my reviews
Mark Oliver Everett is the talented leader of the band The Eels, and I have been a massive fan ever since 2005, with the discovery of "Electro-Shock Blues". Years later, after having discovered all their amazing albums, I decided to buy and read this book.

I read it in about 2 or 3 readings, which should let you know about how rivetting the book is. It's an autobiography, it's well-written, direct, simple yet profound, and it's a pure treasure.

You won't believe the life Everett had and has: from his father corresponding with Einstein to the plane crash near his house, to being attacked by a psycho with a kitchen knife to losing his entire family to heart-attack, suicide, and cancer, to his cousin dying on 9/11, and much more.

The book is at once hilarious, heart-wrenching, and uplifting. It is an inspiring volume written by one of the best artists to have walked the earth; and even though Everett is rather modest, we know his true worth, and it's a big damn lot. I know people won't agree with me, but I think Everett is better than Bob Dylan. Yeah, I know. I like Dylan too, but I far prefer Everett's music.

The book is a pleasure to read, in spite of the really hard things it contains, but if you're an admirer of Everett, you already faced much hardship in his music, and some of them you will already be familiar with, such as the suicide of his sister, his mother's cancer, and other not too pleasant events.

Extremely highly recommended. In fact, even if you know nothing at all about Everett, you'd still adore this book.
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Things the Grandchildren Should Know
Things the Grandchildren Should Know by Mark Everett (Hardcover - October 14, 2008)
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