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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

J. Randy Taraborelli - Michael Jackson - The Magic, The Madness, The Whole Story

Isbn: 978-0-446-56474-8
Releasedate: August 5, 2009 (re-release)
Genre: Biography - Reallife / HC format
For sale at : The Book Depository Store

So much has how been said and written about the life and career of Michael Jackson that it has become almost impossible to disentangle the man from the myth. This book is the fruit of over 30 years of research and hundreds of exclusive interviews with a remarkable level of access to the very closest circles of the Jackson family - including Michael himself. Cutting through tabloid rumours, J. Randy Taraborrelli traces the real story behind Michael Jackson, from his drilling as a child star through the blooming of his talent to his ever-changing personal appearance and bizarre publicity stunts.

This major biography includes the behind-the-scenes story to many of the landmarks in Jackson's life: his legal and commercial battles, his marriages to Lisa Marie Presley and Debbie Rowe, his passions and addictions, his children. Objective and revealing, it carries the hallmarks of all of Taraborrelli's best-sellers: impeccable research, brilliant storytelling and definitive documentation.
This book tells about an incredibly life, the journey and path in life that the King of Pop and humanitarian Michael Jackson took in the nearly 51 years he lived. The road to stardom and the consequences of being as famous as him, the extortion and the seclusion, the lonelyness and eccentricities.

Michaels lifestory is so incredibly emotional, impressing, amazing, shocking and nearly unbelievable in so many ways! This book tells the complete story from his early living years in Gary, Indiana to his passing in Bell Air, California. This will probably be one of the last updated versions on this novel and is supposedly written by someone who met up with Michael many times throughout all his life and claims to have an inside scoop on things.

The beginning of the story tells about the abuse, physical as well as emotional, Michael and his siblings endured from his father. The total opposite lifestyles of his father and his religious mother, which gave a distorted example of how to live a good life and were total opposites in every sense of the word. It shows how his parents, the record companies and representations, as well as being in the spotlight isolated him from normal life ever since he was a young boy. He has been alone and lonely for most of his life, misunderstood and never appreciated for his opinion when he needed it the most. It shows that he always was a shy introverted boy, but instead of helping him find a way to being more extravert and open they shielded him from the outside world making it impossible for him to take a stand in a social life.

To tell this part of Michael’s life takes up to about 400 pages in this book, is extensive and really takes you on the road towards stardom and into Michaels thoughts and life. This was the part that touched so many of my emotions and really got me connected to Michaels life from the inside point of view. However I found it a bit annoying that throughout the pages this author placed remarks towards the future from his own point of view. This irritated me on a certain level because when I read a biography I want to read about someone’s life story not about the opinion of the author, I can make up my own mind thank you very much! It irritated me and it was then that I started to see typo’s and grammar mistakes in sentences, wrongful use of words and sentences that were incomplete. For a book published this many times I expected it to be near to flawless, especially in the first half. Boy was I in for a surprise later in the story as that worsened!

The first part makes clear to me what I had known all along. Michael held out his heart; pouring with love for everyone to see; take from or enjoy; without any boundaries, borders or walls protecting it on his part, only hoping some of the love he gave would be given in return unconditionally. Everyone sensitive enough to it would see it in everything he did. From his love towards his mother, to the love for his fans, for the underprivileged people of this world, to the animals he had living at home.

No matter how his heart was bruised, kicked at, torn up, or smashed to pieces. No matter how much time it took him to come back, he stayed in search for that one small bit of light to grasp and pull himself back towards it.

When he was brought down in that deep dark cold space all I could feel was the need, the want, the desire to keep his heart safe from harm and warm it with my own love and heal the pain he has lived with so many years and make it better for him. Reading this book only strengthened that feeling and makes me more sad that he never had someone to blanket him as he needed to be.

One particular scene stayed with me and still pops into my mind every now and then, that was where young Michael (if I remember correctly about 14 years at that time) warned a fan who was invited up to the apartment his brothers rented for some “action” to not go, even wrote her a note with his autograph asking her not to go as he told her: They wouldn’t treat you right. She decided to ignore it and went anyway. She went and Michael was brought home, got out of the car, recognised her and said: I can’t believe you went. She was all up in tears and regretted that she had done so. She got into a cab and left… To me it showed everything Michael was, even back then they didn’t listen to what he had to say. He was not trusted in what he said.

No matter how controversy and eccentric a picture of Michael, J. Randy Taraborrelli painted I dreaded reading the last pages of this book. Of course it really was real, Michael had died June 25, 2009, but to read it as a final thought in this book was just surreal to me. It was the ending of a person’s life who never was able to live life.

I said it before in this review that in my opinion as an author of a biography you should remain objectivity, remain to facts and keep an open mind. In the writings of the past 15 years J. Randy Taraborrelli was not able to do that. It felt what he wrote down was not inside information but more stories gotten from outside sources. The spelling, grammar and wrongful use of names is stunning, and rather implies the quickness it’s written and released again and again without taking the time to read and edit it and re-read it with every new publication.

I’ll name a few of these to stipulate that I’m not just saying or making it up:

  • Neverland has been said to have both 27,000 & 2,700 acres of ground.
  • The videographer interviewing the Arvizo family was name as both Christian Robinson and Christian Anderson.
  • The DCFS was also named DSCS.
  • There are countless grammar mistakes in the built up of sentences that make you have to re-read sentences to understand what is being said.
  • And there are typo’s that make your brow raise as well.
What makes this book quite difficult to read as well that it’s written up in chapters, it reads very confusing at certain points, especially in the later years because in one chapter you find yourself reading information from i.e. 1994-1997 when the next chapter will take you back to i.e. 1992-1993.

There was a remark in the book that made me want to lash out to J. Randy Taraborrelli. Although it has to be somewhat applauded that in the ‘Chandler-case’ he remained saying wasn’t sure what had transpired-personally. However, in my opinion looking at the facts he brought forth in this book, it was clear that Michael was innocent. I knew that then and after reading this book I’m even more sure of it now. But I’m coming back to the fact that his opinion does not fit in a book portrayed as a biography! In the ‘Arvico-case’, in his own words he knew it was a set up.

What made me want to lash out however was that after the acquittal of Michael June 13, 2005, a woman came up to J. Randy Taraborelli saying to him “After all of THIS, what if he really IS innocent?”

He wrote in response to that and I quote: “As I looked at the startled expression on her face, I felt a chill shoot down my spine and I thought to myself… ‘Oh, my God! What is he really IS?’

It made me want to scream and say “You dimwit, do you finally get it now??!!! It, for Christ sake took you long enough!’

For someone who they claim knows or is an ‘expert’ on Michaels life it seems to me that he might only know what Michael wanted him to know, but never understood the essence of Michaels being. I think Michael never forgot the fact that J. Randy Taraborrelli is indeed a journalist and in his world they could not be trusted. Throughout his whole life people backstabbed him and he remained cautious towards certain people, unfortunately not so cautious towards the one that hurt him the most.

The question remains though, would I recommend this book for reading, is it what I expected from reading a biography and did it really give me the satisfaction of getting the inside information on this person’s life?

I have to admit that it’s difficult to extract myself from the way it is written and the person who it is written about. Michael, throughout the years has affected and touched more in my life that I realized.

The first 400 or so pages give a clear, insightful view and a lot of information on Michaels life so in order to establish if this is biography worthy I have to say yes, surpassing grammar mistakes and writing errors. It touches every fibre of my being, emotion, stirs me on every level and leaving me amazed in all that he had experienced in his life (good and obviously bad!). Throughout the years after that, it becomes more clear to me that this story isn’t written from Michaels perspective anymore but from the authors viewpoint. Throughout it all I missed real interaction with Michael (though the second half a lot more that the first half). So it left me feeling bereft and misguided by the title.

The last 4 years the author has only been in touch with Michael on the phone twice and only for a few minutes and the years before it seems that contact has been minimum too! So to name this book:

‘The Magic, The Madness, The Whole Story 1958-2009 / Updated with new chapters on the stars last years and last days’

is not accurate! The last deals only with the rumours everybody knows, the news everybody knows but I have not come across a snippet of information about the allegedly private lifestyle Michael had according to this author that wasn’t already know to me through other means. It came across as though the author was trying to say “I know Michael and I want the whole world to know as well.”

All in all the positive feelings I have about this book is that it kept me focussed on Michael, his life and him as a person. It made me understand even more about his past and giving a total different view on Michael and the Record Companies and Paparazzi and their influence on Michaels subtraction to open up and live a very secluded life.

What is a nice addition to reading Michaels story is that certain televised performances can be looked back on sites like ie. youtube. It shows even more how exquisite Michael as a performer was. Despite all the things going on in his personal life, he was able to tune that out completely and still give his best performance ever. A good example of that it: Billie Jean Motown 25-the first time he performed the ‘Moonwalk’ eventhough it originally is called the backslide but media picked it up as the moonwalk. Behind the scenes there is so much turmoil and drama going on, but he got up on stage, did his thing and not one moment can you see on his face the hurt he feels inside.

As a biography, how it’s written – structure as well as writing-language left quite a bit to be desired and I think the book is as successful as it is because of the subject and timing of every (re) release. For me as a reader it left me with the desire to read more inside information and still left me with unanswered questions that should have been answered at least partially by someone who claims to have been on the inside!

And most of all what I really missed was the last years of Michaels life. Information about his return, his rehearsals and of course the weeks from his passing away to the memorial service in Staples, the world newly awoken to his music and life. This biography is NOT the whole story, it is NOT a completed biography and the fact that almost 60 (!!!) pages are used for acknowledgements are a rip off in my opinion. I’m left very dissatisfied about the last almost 368 pages.

The last 4 pages are a reflection of J. Randy Taraborrelli walking through an empty Neverland that rose my hair and gave me goose bumps, realizing that this author just wanted some publicity to pour drama to his last reflection. I was not fooled by it, my eyes opened up and left me thinking ‘You bollocks! If you only see this now that he has passed, you never really knew Michael at all!’ But then again it really shows how the press used Michael to their own raise to fame – this journalist in the end seems no exception to me.

Would I recommend this read? It depends on the reason why you want to read this book. If you’re a lifelong fan following him from as early as the 70’s, looking for new information, I think most of the written pages hold information you already know. However the early years give some background information on Michaels life that might be of interest to you. If you became interested in Michael after his passing, wanting to know more on his life, it is a good way to start your search, but if you are longing to read more information about Michael (in-depth and private) on his let’s say last 20 years I’d say don’t bother buying it, all the information can be looked back on the internet and it does not give you anything real constructive.

Would I read other ‘biographies’ written by this author? As simple as NO, and simply because in the end he was not objective concerning Michael which lead me to realize that a biography might best not be written by one person or at least not by this author alone. It should not be opinionated and should consist of information given by the topic and not for 90% people from outside. I missed so much viewpoints from Michael, how he looked on life, how he stood in it all and where he came from.

All in all in the end I would like to close my review that my critique and review on this book is based on how it’s written, structured, set up, it is as a viewpoint on the writing skills of this author and NOT on the person it is written about!

3 Stars

3 reacties:

A Buckeye Girl Reads said...

I love the colors of your layout!! I'm not one who reads a lot of biographies, but it would be interesting to read all the different stuff about Michael.

SilverNeurotic said...

Back in 2002 or 2003 I wrote a rock biography by Jeff Apter (an Australian rock journalist)...I enjoyed the book mainly because it was about my favorite bands-but much like this MJ bio I couldn't help but notice a lot of errors. He was called out on it (this band has some rabid fans) and a few years later he decided to update the book...and in the process corrected his mistakes. In doing that, he gained my respect. I also read another of his bio's and I don't recall any blantant errors in that one.

So to say that this MJ bio has been reprinted and updated a number of times...yet, still has many mistakes kind of puts a bad taste in my mouth. I did kind of want to read a bio about him, but I don't think I will bother with his particular one.

Natascha / Ashleagh said...

@A Buckeye Girl Reads - I am the same, I don't read too many biogaphies either, just the one's about people I'm really interested in. I'm still working on the lay-out of my blog and content but the colours are a definite keeper ;-)

@SilverNeurotic - There are quite a few great reads about MJ out there. What initially appealed me to read this one, was because it supposedly was written by someone on the "inside" and would contain his complete life-story, so it indeed was a bitter pill to swallow in the end for me as well, especially the last years of his turbulent life.

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With everything new, I ofcourse, had to get used to the idea of making, owning and maintaining a blog but I have to say, now that I’ve got the hang of it, it’s quite fun to do. Let me introduce myself, I’m Natascha, in my early 30’s and from a little place called Winschoten in the Netherlands, I’ll be your host on this blog.

As an avid reader you’ll find that most of my blogs will maintain reviews, books, topics about books, writing and such, but as I am a diverse person myself, it will include many other topics on things that I find interesting in life. So welcome to my world, and happy blogging!
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