I just finished reading this amazing memoir. It is not due to publish until May, 2011, but this post has two objectives. One is to succintly tell you to read this book if you have the stomach for a brutally honest and amazingly well written memoir. The other is to air my own personal experience of reading the book and the consideration of how the reading experience and the impact of the book would have been vastly different had it been an enhanced e-book.
Jack Grisham, former lead singer of California hardcore punk band TSOL, has written an incredibly honest, disturbring and beautifully written memoir of his very troubled youth.
It is hard to put my finger on why it resonated so strongly with me as I moved from despising him to feeling sympathy for him, but I don't think that I have ever read anything so honest, and in the end it is this honesty that makes this such a moving autobiography of a seriously troubled young man. Given the alcohol and drug fueled life he led, many of the details are probably a bit hazy, but for him to put pen to paper to recount this part of his life, it is certainly not to boast of any of these feats. This amazing memor is not for the faint of heart, and it is much, much more than a document about life as the lead singer of TSOL.
The other reason for this post is related to the reading experience, which for me was by reading a printed galley. Throughout my reading of the book, I knew that when I finished I would go to youtube to see footage of a TSOL show and to see what the author, Jack Grisham, actually looks like, (since he regularly refers to himself as gorgeous and big - 6'3" in the book). I intentionally did not do this until I was done as I knew that it would influence the way in which I read the book and understood the author. Had it been an enhanced e-book on an ipad for instance, there would likely have been the same videos embedded into the narrative which I would have absolutely watched while reading the book. Having finished the book and created in my mind's eye an image of what Jack looks like and an impression of what kind of person he is, seeing the videos after the fact surprised me in terms of what he looks like, and they softened the impression I have of what kind of a person he is. My point is that the experience and the intensity of emotion that I had in reading the book without any video images or video interruption for me was clearly more impactful, despite the fact that I wanted to see the video images as soon as I finished the book. I am sure for others having an enhanced e-book experience will be preferrable, but for me the linear book was completely immersive and I can only guess, much more impactful. Had I bounced back and forth between interviews, live concert footage, etc, I am sure I would have finished the book with a different and less intense sense of the tragic and brutal youth that Jack lived and imposed on many others.
If I haven't bored you yet, had I been given the choice in reading this book between the book format and the nature of how that narrative unfolds, and the ehnaced multi-media book that a book like this might also evole into, I would hands down choose the linear unfolding of the traditional paper book narrative for maximum impact.
An American Demon. By Jack Grisham. Published by ECW Press - May, 2011. 9781550229561.