I’ve recently become rather enchanted by Lenny Kravitz. Maybe because he’s part of the world’s most attractive family and I’ve watched his actor daughter Zoë in Big Little Lies during the pandemic. Maybe it’s because lately he’s done a bit more press than usual, mainly to promote his book Let Love Rule as well as YSL perfume Y (as in ‘why’), of which he is the face.
I do like a good memoir every now and then. I am also absolutely fine with them not often being of particularly good literary quality, especially if they have been put on the market in a rush (floppy editing and spelling errors), or the ghost writer is clearly not up to the task. That said, such memoirs still need to fulfil some function one expects from a book – having interesting content, to start with.
This is tricky, because interesting content requires some kind of tension and controversy, and who wants to give out that kind of information about themselves? There is a saying that autobiographies are the best fiction available. Imagine being able to choose what to tell your fans about your life while omitting anything unpleasant, without any space limitation (such as the pesky restrictions on social media sometimes) or any criticism. Basically having someone else draft the most flattering, epically long instagram post about you.
This is what Kravitz’ coming of age memoir Let Love Rule is. I did not abandon the book without any new information, however: I did not know, for example, that Kravitz actually grew up in a very bourgeoise family. I had falsely assumed that every pop/rockstar insists on the narrative of having grown up very poor and miserable (Madonna, Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez, Bruce Springsteen, everybody). So that was interesting information.
Then there’s a fair bit about Kravitz being basically Jesus for having taken care of a young prostitute and overall just being a stellar youth. Then he meets Lisa Bonet of the Cosby Show -fame* and after two years of friendship they get married and a bit later welcome their daughter Zoë, and that’s where the book ends.
Though, to be honest, it does end in the following, tantalising cliffhanger:
“The new chapter was yet to be written. To be continued…”
The book’s ghost, David Ritz, is introduced in the back cover merely as the person who “has collaborated with everyone from Ray Charles to Aretha Franklin.” According to Wikipedia he truly has, having some 36 biographies under his belt about stars big and small, and, interestingly, he penned the song Sexual Healing in Belgian Ostend of all places in the world.
(This fact shall puzzle you forever and hopefully take your mind off the pandemic and world politics.)
So, not Ritz’s first rodeo. But Let Love Rule is just awkward, in all meanings of the word. Listening to Kravitz’ interviews and obviously his music, it’s very clear he’s very cultured, educated and intelligent. Importantly, he also comes across extremely cool with a rock’n roll lifestyle (at least after his split from Bonet, which, as mentioned, is annoyingly where the book ends). But somehow it all gets lost in the unacceptably naïve and clumsy language of Let Love Rule.
Despite all of the above, the book has already made it to the New York Times bestselling list, as one could guess it would. Amazon describes Let Love Rule as a ‘beautiful coffee table book’, but to me it’s too small and not tactile enough an objet to compete with the cult-tomes like Sex by Madonna, Grace by Grace Coddington, or anything by Helmut Newton.
Writing a book, not easy. Unexpected surprises on the celebrity memoir/autobiography -genre include Geri Halliwell’s autobiography If Only and Diane von Fürstenberg’s The Woman I Wanted to Be.
Memories, Dreams and reflections by Marianne Faithfull is so rock’n roll it gives you contact high just by looking at it.
I shall continue to admire the coolness of Lenny Kravitz and his nauseatingly sexy extended family as before, but maybe instead of his future books, will rather purchase his collaboration-toothpaste Twice, which aims at “evolving brushing into a ritual rather than a chore.”
I mean. Why not.
*This provided the other bit of new information: Bill Cosby sacked Lisa Bonet from the second season of the series A Different World because she was pregnant. “Denise Huxtable”, he’d said of Bonet’s character, “could not be pregnant”.
Maybe he was too busy drugging and raping young women to have given the issue proper thought.