Things the Grandchildren Should Know is a memoir by Mark Oliver Everett, the founder of the band Eels. He answers to “E” which may explain why people who saw me with the book last week did not know him by name but had heard of the Eels.
The title and the cover are not a good combination. Several people commented that it seemed like it should be a self-help book. But when I told them about the memoir they found it interesting. The title is the name of one of E’s songs and is meant to be a joke. Though he was married at one time he lays no claim to children. It’s just him and his dog, Bobby Jr.
The memoir starts off with stories from his past. It is easy to imagine sitting at a bar with E and being entertained by his stories. The book has a casual tone so it comes off a little bit like a one-sided conversation. Near the end of the book this approach doesn’t work as well as it did in the beginning.
E’s stories move into the recent past but there isn’t a connection between him and the reader. The first story shows he can write and put some thought into the writing approach for the memoir. Perhaps adding small details to bring the reader into the moment would have helped.
He shares a lot of personal family history/issues and directly shows how it relates to some of his lyrics. It’s easy to say he’s lived through some heart-wrenching experiences. Someone with less focus on a constructive outlet would have succumbed to cumulative bad decisions. An engaging, easy read, it rises above the celebrity/musician memoir that only dishes the dirt on sex and drugs.