However little consolation it may be, one can always take comfort in the thought that even a life that's been ordinary, less than exemplary, and unremarkable (by whatever arbitrary standards of remarkableness one holds it up to) does not have to get in the way of a well-written, emotionally resonant life story. Ricky Martin's memoir proves that the converse holds true as well - detract self-aware introspection, relevant information and writing ability, and you may well have been livin'
a vida loca
, but will catastrophically fail to communicate what was so compelling about it.
What little I remember of his music career from my adolescent years and his unsurprising (at least to the gayfolk) coming out, incited me to read the book - but I did not feel strongly about him as a person either way prior to reading. The problem is, that after conquering the middle-schooler's "How I spent my summer
"-essay quality, the tautological, new-agey prose style that would make the conmen creators of "[b:The Secret|52529|The Secret (The Secret, #1)|Rhonda Byrne|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1347602964s/52529.jpg|2001660]" proud - I was unsure whether there was any deep insight into his psychology to be had in this read. Sure, he seems to be an overall agreeable chap, and his charity work is laudable, but - as a biography - this gives you a superficial glance of his life at best, omitting just about everything that would've been interesting about a memoir of a pop-star's life and career. Instead of presenting a self-aware, insightful, and inspiring look back at what clearly has been an eventful life, he deals in generalities while attempting to appear deeply spiritual.Additional Thoughts: Sexuality
Despite the issue of his sexuality and the constant apologetics for why he came out when he did (ranging from a simple and honest fear about what other people will think, to "everything happens for a reason, and at the perfect time
" and other assorted woo-woo crap) being the closest thing to a pervasive thread throughout the book - he dances about the issue in a vague manner, and doesn't delve on his same-sex relationships beyond basic pleasantries. Rather curiously, he is more explicit (but only barely more so) about the women he bedded. Martin does reiterate that he wants to keep some details of his life and those in it private, and a good autobiography certainly needn't be an exposé - but if you're deliberately being coy, and do all but flesh out in a paragraph or two some basic facts one could as well have used their google-fu
skills to learn, why write at all?Additional Thoughts: Music
Far more disappointing, however, is the lack of any real insight of what makes Martin tick as a musician. One would think this, being his element, would offer by far the most juicy and sophisticated ideas, but judging by the amount of content, you'd have to assume Martin was writing a self-help book on some vague concepts of a new age spirituality instead.
His time in Menudo?
"Amazing, and a valuable lesson, that I had no idea of knowing would be so important for my career!!!" (not an actual quote)
Ugh. Receiving a Grammy/ Premio El Heraldo de México?
"It was such a great honor for me, I could not believe my luck! But I also worked hard for it, because I firmly believe that if I didn't work hard for it, then *something, something, new age fluff*" (also heavily paraphrased)
And on and on it goes in a tone of saccharine, yet rather implausible humility best reserved for acceptance speeches - so don't expect any exegesis on the creative processes, inspiration, influences, personal meanings of particular songs or lyrics, or anything else of consequence.
To be fair - he does mention something along the lines of:
"[..] And that is exactly what happens when you put a song out into the world: It becomes everyone's property and everyone has the right to interpret it and live it as they see fit. [..]"
Having to an extent experienced it on my own skin - I can get where he's coming from, but, even if true, this doesn't make for an exciting account of what his songs mean to him.
Others have suggested that anyone thinking of reading Martin's memoirs should basically calibrate one's expectations and give him a break for not being a writer. I'll concede, that, as before - on the rare occasions I think of him - I don't think of him badly, but on what other criteria but the quality of writing and its content should one judge a book? How can the author being of decent character substitute for that?
As it is, the book is superficial, overcautious, anxiously avoiding any chance to offend, written in a simplistic manner - and the focus oddly is the author's suspect philosophy, rather than deep explorations of significant events in his life, or explication of his oeuvre.