Book Review: “Shakey”

Special to the Herald-Guide

September 22, 2011 at 1:05 pm  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Leighton Webre
Leighton Webre
Reviewed by Leighton Webre

Jimmy McDonough’s "Shakey" is a biography of Neil Young, international rock star, acclaimed folk singer and country chart-topper.

Following his story from before his birth to throughout his fame, it is filled with information gathered from his family, friends and assorted enemies.

Neil Young’s childhood was fraught with trials. A bad bout of polio nearly took his life and rendered him, for a time, practically crippled on one side. His parents divorced - the separation turning his mother into a cold, harsh woman who loved fiercely but secretly. He moved often and had few friends; as a result, he became a loner and a shut-in, caring little for anything but that which he loved: music.

The misfortune of his childhood would shape who he was and is: a strange, gifted individual. "Shakey" takes a hard look into Young’s history and quivering sanity, offering valuable insight into both, as well as an extraordinarily meticulous chronicle of his rise to fame.

I thoroughly enjoyed "Shakey." Neil Young’s music is a window into his soul, revealing him to be a fragile, vulnerable individual kept intact by alternating layers of apathy and escapism. Yet that window only offers partial illumination into Young’s mind; McDonough lights a lantern and boldly forays into the dark, unexplored regions of Young’s soul, finding interviews and recording the life of one of the world’s few silent rock stars. The book is informative beyond compare, faithfully delivering glimpses into the musician’s mind, life and philosophy while withholding nothing.

McDonough is a true reporter, fearlessly printing good and evil alike, unafraid to voice the facts or voice his own opinions.

Leighton Webre is a junior in the academically gifted and talented art programs at Hahnville High. He enjoys literature and music. He is the founder of Hahnville High School’s Jam Club, which promotes and practices instrumental improvisation.

Editor’s note: Book reviews are published weekly during the summer in agreement with Hahnville High School gifted English teacher Deborah Unger in conjunction with the Brown Foundation Service Learning Program.


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