Things the Grandchildren Should Know

Mark Oliver Everett is the kind of talented musician who has garnered plenty of critical acclaim but managed to steer his indie rock band, the Eels, clear of becoming the next big thing for decades. He's fine with that. In fact, it comes as such a surprise to him that he's made it in the music business (and through 44 years of living) that he's written it down for posterity, even though he doesn't have kids yet. Detailing his trudge through teen angst, Everett serves up musings on creativity and musical inspiration with generous helpings of personal tragedy including his father's untimely death and his sister's multiple suicide attempts. What keeps the drama meter from tilting too far over (as cancer, accidents, and overdoses claim the lives of parents, friends, and fellow musicians, and crazy girlfriends cause more heartbreak) is the telling. Whether he's composing lyrics or describing his life, Everett's words are consistently intelligent and unembellished. He doesn't indulge in self-pity. Take this bit about his beloved sister, "I came home after the show and checked my phone messages. There was a message from my mom? 'Liz took a bottle of pills and she went into a coma. Um?call?me.'" Through bad recording deals and other misfortunes Everett retains the forward-thinking optimism he had driving across the country to seek his fortune in California, pockets stuffed with nothing more than demo tapes. "All these deaths made me notice that I was still alive." And if he ever does find the right girl, here's what he wants his grandchildren to know, "I've been through a lot but I'm OK. And if I want to be I'm better than OK. I mean -- I survived. And I survived just by being me. How lucky and amazing is that?"

April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

advertisement
Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.