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Hollywood Park: A Memoir by Mikel Jollett
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Non-fiction, Memoir
Pages: 384 pages (Hardcover)
Published: 26th May 2020 by Celadon Books
A heartbreaking and beautifully written memoir.
Hollywood Park was never on my radar until Goodreads sent me this book. I didn’t even know who Mikel Jollett, the author and the singer in a band called The Airborne Toxic Event, was until I actually opened this book. As some of you probably know, I don’t read memoir/non-fiction often; at most it’s once or twice a year, and I’m incredibly picky about the books I choose to read. But one chapter into Hollywood Park, the writing was more than enough already to convince me that I’m going to have to read this memoir.
“That’s the whole magic trick of an essence brought to life by a song, to become an artist when you feel broken and you’ve decided to turn it into beauty. To make the pain useful. The longing, the fear, the heartache and dread, the ability to see these broken pieces of yourself like cracks in an armor through which you are better able to see the world: too broken to be normal, just broken enough to see beauty.”
I’ll keep this review brief; I don’t feel like I’m in the right spot to judge or analyze Mikel’s life. Hollywood Park tells the coming-of-age story of Mikel Jollett, and my god, the life he has led is one that truly made me grateful for my life and the family I have. Mikel’s childhood is tumultuous, to say the least, and he grew up witnessing things that kids shouldn’t have seen, or even worse, experienced. But this is the cards that were dealt with him, and the card dictates a life filled with anger, sadness, emptiness, addiction, and Mikel never even got to experience the love he needed as a child; instead, he has to be an adult since he was 5 years old. But it’s important to know that this isn’t all bleak. The memoir was beautifully written; I don’t think I’ve ever read a memoir/non-fiction that’s as beautifully written as this. Reading the book from Mikel’s third-person narration in the present tense since he was a child up to his adulthood made me feel like I have lived with him.
“It seemed like writers have the most important job in the world, to make books, to create a connection, a kind of telepathy between two minds in which one can inhabit the other.”
It did take me about 100 pages long for me to find myself fully immersed with the narrative, but once I did, I couldn’t put the book down. Everything about Hollywood Park just felt raw, poignant, bittersweet, and more importantly, despite all the emotional devastation and palpable sorrow that surrounds Mikel’s life, the fierce love—though they’re difficult to find—displayed were the most powerful. In the totality of darkness, when everything feels lost and hopeless, a small display of affection that maintains its light might become the catalyst to save someone’s life. We know this; each one of us has our own demons and conflicts to face, and having someone by our side who will listen and care for us with requirements attached sometimes means more than anything that exquisite material can offer. If you haven’t gotten the chance to experience this, I sincerely hope that you will be patient; the day will come, and once it arrived, I’m sure you will be glad that you have stayed strong through the challenges that life throws at you. Be kind to one another. Thank you, Mikel Jollett, for telling us your story.
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