Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Grim Detail by Henry Rollins

(oversized pb; 2014: nonfiction / memoir)

From the back cover:

"A Grim Detail shoulders the anchor, drags it onward from the end of 2008 and then hurls into the ground in 2010. A world tour, two documentaries and journeys that include North Korea, South Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Mongolia and many others are contained herein. 'Oh no, not another one!' was said or implied by almost everyone involved in the making of this book. Actually, no -- it was all of us. After three on and off years of proofreading and editing, A Grim Detail became the kid no one wanted to play with. Don't laugh. I was that kid, and I am this book, well, you know what I mean.

"But then, in the early days of 2014, work on A Grim Detail concluded. The relief was total, the contempt incalculable, the ridicule to come, too painful too imagine.

"Now, the damn thing is all yours.

"Have a good cringe and thank you for everything.
" - Henry Rollins"


Blunt, funny, angry and admirable in it intent, Grim is an intense, kick-in-the-brain journal read. Anyone who's familiar with Rollins' media-diverse and prolific work may find themselves nodding to themselves and thinking I remember him talking about that, and those readers who aren't familiar with his work (and aren't angry about his tough-minded, global-political mindset) may find themselves jolted into a new way of thinking.

Rollins' work is at times heartbreaking: he visits the site of the 1984 Bhopal Disaster (which happened in Madhya Pradesh, India), Vietnam and other politically and socially "hot" areas that most Westerners -- journalists included -- aren't visiting, to see first-hand the effects of these disasters, how it's affected those who were there (as well as their descendants). Other countries he visited are written about in a lighter tone.

Of course, as with all Rollins' work, there's a bit of self-deprecation, outrage (a pivotal event in his life is the unsolved 1991 murder of his friend Joe Cole) and the struggle for clarity -- social and personal -- that many of us, underneath all our layers of talk and other bullcrap, also strive for.

I cannot recommend this work enough. While it is not an light read it is a waste-no-words important book that could easily change some lives in a way other Western-culture books won't. Own this, already.

1 comment:

Katherine Krige said...

I can imagine that this book would be full of angst and insight, coming from Henry Rollins. It sounds like he tackles some tough places. I might have to keep this book in mind next time I'm out book shopping or library hopping.

<em>Sharp Objects</em> by Gillian Flynn

(pb; 2006) From the back cover “Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, reporter Camille Preaker faces a troubling assignment: ...