It should be said from the off that had the tragic events of E’s life been presented by an aspiring author to a publishing house as a work of fiction they’d probably be criticised for being a) highly unlikely and b) bit bleak. “Well, it’s an interesting story, but does everyone in his family have to die?” or “this stuff about an awkward introverted loner is understandable but it’s a bit far fetched to think that he’d become a famous rock star.”
It’s probably fair to say that Things the Grandchildren Should Know (named for one the songs on the 2005 album Blinking Lights and Other Revelations) will never win any literature awards, with E pointedly eschewing flowery language for a straight-ahead four to the floor telling of the facts more in keeping with his constantly failing attempts to lead a down-to-earth approach to life. For fans there are also some odd omissions (no mention at all of MC Honky, E's hip hop alter ego, and no real mention of ideas and inspirations behind his always interesting videos). Still, his tale is told with heart on sleeve frankness and precious little rock star ego which only renders it all the more compelling. This is a distinctly human story and instead of the usual 'I-wish-my-life-was-like-that' after-effect of rock bios, one is left with a distinct feeling of being a little blessed ourselves.
Interestingly E's experiences - good and bad - have taught him a similar lesson; that life has some downs but they usually lead you to some ups and you really don't ever know what's coming next. That might not seem like much in the way of philosophy for a lifetime of fascinating, thrilling joys (E's own personal fandom is never far and his pride at meeting Tom Waits or playing London's Albert Hall after first hearing about it via the Beatles' A Day in the Life is just lovely) and deep personal losses (I even lost count of the amount of friends and neighbours who died in what is a relatively short book) but it's refreshingly honest and thankfully avoids the Jerry Springer's Final Thought summation.