gene simmons' autobiography, "kiss and make-up," is easily the most unpleasant book cover i've had to look at, as a reader. the sheer unpleasantness of staring at an elongated tongue dangling out of a made-up face certainly reinforces the timeless wisdom of that old chestnut, "never judge a book by it's cover." perhaps it would have been easier to swallow if i had just taken off the dust jacket before turning the pages?
but seriously, this was one of the two books i picked up at the strand annex last month (along with the kerouac book) as part of the 50% off going out of business clearance sale. it was well worth the investment because i couldn't put it down (cover aside). while i was never a huge kiss fan, i did listen to plenty of kiss albums during my high school days in the late 70's. so it was with a sense of guilty pleasure that i jumped into this one after the somewhat too cerebral, "what i talk about when i talk about running," haruki murakami book.
having watched more than a few episodes of gene simmons "family jewels" made his autobiography an even more enjoyable experience. the book was published in 2001, well before the t.v. show hit the airwaves, but it was still timely. his story is a primer for the show - one of those "how i got here" narratives that fills in the unaired details. it's certainly gene's version, because the version written by original band members ace frehley or peter criss may differ significantly. while he writes harshly (perhaps justifiably) about ace and peter conduct, he write reverently about paul stanley - who he refers to "as the brother i never had."
despite the sometimes "tell all" character - or may because of it - the book was an incredibly enjoyable read. echoes of his future t.v. personae permeate the book. as a big plus, it contains dozens of photos the band's - and gene's life outside the band. i found his and the band's the formative years the most captivating read. the relatively lackluster period that befell the (reconstituted) band during the 1980's was the least interesting material. but just as the fortunes of kiss roared back in the 90's, so too did my interest in the story line - especially the kiss appearance/ performance/ reunion on mtv's unplugged series.
after this one, i got back on the wagon with a bit more gravitas and started, simon winchester's "the man who loved china," - in no small way, to coincide with the beijing olympics ;D