Things the Grandchildren Should Know is the autobiography of the lead singer of the band Eels. Everett is also known simply as E. He was raised in a dysfunctional environment in Virginia. His father, a quantum mechanic, rarely spoke to him, while his mother suffered from depression. The only bright spots in his life were his older sister Liz and music. Liz also suffered from depression and made many suicide attempts. While his mother and sister were out of town one day, Everett discovers his dead father. He had died of an heart attack at 51. Everett then goes to California to make something out of his music. After many years of hard work, he finally finds success, but his life still had many downturns. One of Liz’s suicide attempts finally succeeded, and she dies. His mother slowly dies of lung cancer a few years later.
I really was not sure what I would think about this book. Before reading the book, I had heard only one or two songs by Eels. While I liked the songs, I never bothered to hear more. I do this with a lot of bands. Luckily, readers will be able to enjoy this book without being a fan of Eels.
Things the Grandchildren Should Know is a wonderful autobiography. Everett’s straightforward writing made the book easy-to-read, while also making him a very likable guy. How could anyone dislike someone so down-to-earth and honest? I also enjoyed Everett’s wit. For example:
The following is a true story. Some names and hair colors have been changed.
While Everett has suffered through losing his entire family, he does not ask for pity, and most importantly, he does not pity himself either. Here’s another quote:
“To me, it wasn’t a record [Electro-Shock Blues] about death. That was missing the point. It was about life. And death was a big part of life that tended to be ignored, or denied. No one wanted to think there would be an end to themselves, but I couldn’t ignore it, and I realized that if you treat it like the everyday fact of life that it is, it becomes less scary. And also, by being more aware of death, you gain a perspective on living and how you’d better make it count, whatever that may mean to you.”
Just for kicks, here is the song for which the book is titled for.