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The History of Bones: A Memoir

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The quintessential depiction of 1980s New York and the downtown scene from the artist, actor, musician, and composer John Lurie In the tornado that was downtown New York in the 1980s, John Lurie stood at the vortex. After founding the band The Lounge Lizards with his brother, Evan, in 1979, Lurie quickly became a centrifugal figure in the world of outsider artists, cut The quintessential depiction of 1980s New York and the downtown scene from the artist, actor, musician, and composer John Lurie In the tornado that was downtown New York in the 1980s, John Lurie stood at the vortex. After founding the band The Lounge Lizards with his brother, Evan, in 1979, Lurie quickly became a centrifugal figure in the world of outsider artists, cutting-edge filmmakers, and cultural rebels. Now Lurie vibrantly brings to life the whole wash of 1980s New York as he developed his artistic soul over the course of the decade and came into orbit with all the prominent artists of that time and place, including Andy Warhol, Debbie Harry, Boris Policeband, and, especially, Jean-Michel Basquiat, the enigmatic prodigy who spent a year sleeping on the floor of Lurie's East Third Street apartment. It may feel like Disney World now, but in The History of Bones, the East Village, through Lurie's clear-eyed reminiscence, comes to teeming, gritty life. The book is full of grime and frank humor--Lurie holds nothing back in this journey to one of the most significant moments in our cultural history, one whose reverberations are still strongly felt today. History may repeat itself, but the way downtown New York happened in the 1980s will never happen again. Luckily, through this beautiful memoir, we all have a front-row seat.


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The quintessential depiction of 1980s New York and the downtown scene from the artist, actor, musician, and composer John Lurie In the tornado that was downtown New York in the 1980s, John Lurie stood at the vortex. After founding the band The Lounge Lizards with his brother, Evan, in 1979, Lurie quickly became a centrifugal figure in the world of outsider artists, cut The quintessential depiction of 1980s New York and the downtown scene from the artist, actor, musician, and composer John Lurie In the tornado that was downtown New York in the 1980s, John Lurie stood at the vortex. After founding the band The Lounge Lizards with his brother, Evan, in 1979, Lurie quickly became a centrifugal figure in the world of outsider artists, cutting-edge filmmakers, and cultural rebels. Now Lurie vibrantly brings to life the whole wash of 1980s New York as he developed his artistic soul over the course of the decade and came into orbit with all the prominent artists of that time and place, including Andy Warhol, Debbie Harry, Boris Policeband, and, especially, Jean-Michel Basquiat, the enigmatic prodigy who spent a year sleeping on the floor of Lurie's East Third Street apartment. It may feel like Disney World now, but in The History of Bones, the East Village, through Lurie's clear-eyed reminiscence, comes to teeming, gritty life. The book is full of grime and frank humor--Lurie holds nothing back in this journey to one of the most significant moments in our cultural history, one whose reverberations are still strongly felt today. History may repeat itself, but the way downtown New York happened in the 1980s will never happen again. Luckily, through this beautiful memoir, we all have a front-row seat.

30 review for The History of Bones: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    patty

    This could be my favorite quote from this brutally honest pageturner . . . “I feel like I have to hurry up and get this book published before Jim Jarmusch gets hold of it and puts it out as his own memoir.” Loved it. 4.75 Stars.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bill Hsu

    By p. 5 we're told that Lurie's first girlfriend named his penis Everett. Fortunately, the frequency of (not terribly interesting) penis stories peaked quickly and only made occasional appearances after p. 50 or so. These days I'm rather allergic to brain dump-style autobiographies. I complained mightily about Patti Smith's Just Kids, but that was a tight and reasonable read compared with Lurie's book. I have to skip chunks of this, and look for sections on the events that I'm interested in (the By p. 5 we're told that Lurie's first girlfriend named his penis Everett. Fortunately, the frequency of (not terribly interesting) penis stories peaked quickly and only made occasional appearances after p. 50 or so. These days I'm rather allergic to brain dump-style autobiographies. I complained mightily about Patti Smith's Just Kids, but that was a tight and reasonable read compared with Lurie's book. I have to skip chunks of this, and look for sections on the events that I'm interested in (the formation of Lounge Lizards, Jarmusch's Stranger than Paradise, etc). There are outrageous stories of course, but also rather haphazard continuity and no editing. It's like Lurie got drunk and just started spewing. That's fun for a bit, but not 400+ pages. Lurie also complains about not being given enough credit for ideas; for example, he goes on at length on how he came up with the original concept for Stranger than Paradise, and still sounds angry with Jarmusch. And there are some really over-the-top stories about how people screwed him over, poor guy. I sympathize, but I'm not sure I need to know things in such detail. I'm too old to continue past p. 330 or so. If there are essential stories I should check out later, somebody please let me know, ok? I'm revisiting some early Lounge Lizards. I have to say, the band is pretty tight, and the material is fun if a little stiff. I could totally understand Lurie's complaints with the first album, how Arto Lindsay's noise guitar was mixed way down (largely inaudible, in fact).

  3. 4 out of 5

    Chris Molnar

    Captures Lurie's gently prankish hipster sensibility, a man who has really lived the kind of bohemian life that, say, Steely Dan sings about, sex and drugs and jazz and iconic movies, someone who has obstinately held on to a creative spark and has the accomplishments and fuckups to show for it. The massing of boldface names makes it worthwhile for anybody remotely interested in NYC or alternative culture in the late twentieth century, but if you haven't you should watch Stranger Than Paradise an Captures Lurie's gently prankish hipster sensibility, a man who has really lived the kind of bohemian life that, say, Steely Dan sings about, sex and drugs and jazz and iconic movies, someone who has obstinately held on to a creative spark and has the accomplishments and fuckups to show for it. The massing of boldface names makes it worthwhile for anybody remotely interested in NYC or alternative culture in the late twentieth century, but if you haven't you should watch Stranger Than Paradise and listen to Voice of Chunk (and maybe an episode of Fishing with John) to get an idea of exactly the kind of American archetype Lurie embodies and helped define. There's a little of the David Crosby doc or Morrissey memoir here, of somebody who has burned a lot of high-profile bridges, and you have to read between the lines to understand all of what happened. But that's not to say he isn't completely honest about the way he sees things. When you get an earnest accounting of why he thought Marc Ribot insisting on union rates for the Lounge Lizards was an insult, you get both a transparent picture of how he believed he was doing his best, and how his bandmates may have gotten a different impression with its own truth to it. This kind of naked candor is what gives his art, music, acting and writing an unaffected, happy intensity of feeling. But sometimes it gets you in trouble when unmoderated in life. The apex of his career - his work with Jim Jarmusch - gets a muted recollection due to Jarmusch's remoteness and Lurie's unresolved feelings of getting ripped off. Same with Fishing with John - a truly iconic TV show whose insane anti-premise is a forerunner to so much modern comedy - since what he remembers most is the money fuckups. The gripes are genuinely interesting and a better reflection of life than just running from peak to peak. I could have even used more - he holds back from talking about the infamous New Yorker profile of a few years back at all, other than a few pointed zingers. Like with Flea (who makes a few cameos here) and his completely pre-RHCP memoir of a few years back (and Just Kids, and Richard Hell's, or that David Lynch one - perhaps you can tell I love this shit), the first, pre-fame half of the book is what really gives him a chance to show off his style. Watching him dip allusively across years and drug experiences and hitchhiking excursions and shitty suburbs of Boston to illustrate the origins of a creative life has the same feel as one of his stunning, hilarious paintings or albums, the profound wide-eyed silliness of a good acid trip. Once he becomes the coolest dude in New York, there's the requisite parade of hookups and drug binges and tour dates. Thankfully no rehab, which is as close as real life comes to a cliche. The kaleidoscopic parade of interesting artists of various degrees of fame is hypnotic. Did you know that the singer from Blonde Redhead came to America to follow John Lurie after she was a production assistant filming the Lounge Lizards in Japan? And that they lived together for years in an unusual domestic partnership, he introduced her to the rest of Blonde Redhead, and they had a falling out over raisins in a chicken sandwich? I did not. He says exactly how he feels about everybody which is brave and crazy. He apologizes to Debbie Harry for writing that she gave him his first line of heroin. The drug preferences of a wide swath of minor jazz figures are detailed. Do we need to know his detailed moral assessments of a panoply of European tour managers? Perhaps not per se, but as with any memoir it's really more of deep dive into Lurie's perspective, and a way to explore the excitement, paranoia and disappointment of touring. There is quite a bit of Basquiat content, for any Basquiat-heads, some of it newish. He's defensive about it, which makes sense - it's got to be disconcerting to have been a mentor and good friend to somebody like that. Lurie's own fame, such as it is, seems disconcerting enough for him. But he's very good at it, in a wry way. Maybe that is his medium, his masterpiece - being John Lurie, being “cool”, living a real and hard-lived life in the arts without any attention paid to boundaries. Perfect for a memoir to tie together.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Zoe

    "I don’t want to visit cheap". Amen. He doesn’t sell himself (or his story) out on what YOU think is important. I am also so very glad that he didn't cowtow to writing about what people want to hear and it’s glorious. There are a bunch of random reviews out there that will entice you by saying things like: a great book about the grit of NY in the late 70s. Sure, I guess. But really and this is what I got out of it... it's all about the value and desire of a musician to make a difference in the w "I don’t want to visit cheap". Amen. He doesn’t sell himself (or his story) out on what YOU think is important. I am also so very glad that he didn't cowtow to writing about what people want to hear and it’s glorious. There are a bunch of random reviews out there that will entice you by saying things like: a great book about the grit of NY in the late 70s. Sure, I guess. But really and this is what I got out of it... it's all about the value and desire of a musician to make a difference in the world and what he has to do to get there. It's gritty as things get with no apologies, but it's really self reflection and not hot goss about Studio 54 and the East Village which is what some of the preliminary reviews were and I couldn't have wished for anything more different. There are some incredibly gut wrenching funny stories and some incredibly gut wrenching stories that almost broke my heart. But each story... so good. The first five chapters are so important to the rest of the story do not skip them. Truly. It’s a side I certainly did not know. I mean I read the book so I could know more but this was very important reading to understand who Mr. Lurie is and why he pursues everything in the way that he writes about. To me, this was wildly brave. It’s a semi-linear story told in fits and starts which while reading it’s like listening to John Lurie tell you the story directly… and yes there is an audio book that will be just be that exact piece of art. If you have watched "Painting with John" (and I suggest that you do), there is a familiarity in the narrative. If you have seen "Fishing with John" then you definitely are in familiar narrative territory. About halfway through is where the book fine tunes (no pun I promise) so there are some of the more juicer tales. The pace is the same but things get busier and more prolific for John Lurie. Lots of drug use without apology so it can be triggering and honestly hard to read. But he puts it out there and it’s brave. Lots of memoirs talk of drug use and this is so matter of fact that you have to wonder... how can this be, but knowing that there are no other punches pulled, welp, it can and it was. He doesn't glorify it at all. It's pretty heavy to read. There is an interlude (one of many) that was so touching and seriously kind an observation about Andy Warhol when I read it my idea of both of them are actually changed. 86 % in the book (at least according to my reader counter thingie) we get this quote- "making a record is a very artificial thing to do. You are trying to encapsulate , in sound, this thing that is a little moment of soul." I sucked in a huge gasp of air when I read that. It was like "boom" this is what this book is about.... little moments of soul , further peppered with moments of struggle, love and other creative gestures. That is what this book really is about in my opinion, John Lurie... the musician. Every bit of the book always comes back to the music for Lurie. It was a great read. There are some great pictures shared too of his life which if you read all the way through the book, then go and look at them and then they will make more sense. So read the book, then look at the pictures. I am glad that I waited to look at what photos he did share. I honestly will be ordering the audio book because I really want to hear John Lurie tell me these stories again. Truthfully I am looking forward to it! The book is a great read, but be prepared for something a little different than what you might expect!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I received this as a e-galley from NetGalley. John Lurie is one of those New York downtown figures (of the 1980s onward) who was always mentioned in other books about the time period but I had never managed to read or listen to any of his work. Even though the memoir jumps in feet first and assumes you know most of the players - I found it very readable and surprisingly funny. Of course now I see John Lurie everywhere in other things now- and I'm excited to check out his new HBO Max series' Painti I received this as a e-galley from NetGalley. John Lurie is one of those New York downtown figures (of the 1980s onward) who was always mentioned in other books about the time period but I had never managed to read or listen to any of his work. Even though the memoir jumps in feet first and assumes you know most of the players - I found it very readable and surprisingly funny. Of course now I see John Lurie everywhere in other things now- and I'm excited to check out his new HBO Max series' Painting With John.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bert Hirsch

    A well written, fast paced dive into the making (and unmaking) of an artist. From his roots in Worcester, Massachusetts, John Lurie led a wild ride into the downtown New York City arts scene in the late 1970s and 1980s. By the end of the 20th century, he had catapulted himself to fame towards which he has developed a more jaundiced perspective. Wearing 2nd hand clothes from flea markets he ended up being called a fashion icon by Vogue magazine. Starting out he befriended other struggling young ar A well written, fast paced dive into the making (and unmaking) of an artist. From his roots in Worcester, Massachusetts, John Lurie led a wild ride into the downtown New York City arts scene in the late 1970s and 1980s. By the end of the 20th century, he had catapulted himself to fame towards which he has developed a more jaundiced perspective. Wearing 2nd hand clothes from flea markets he ended up being called a fashion icon by Vogue magazine. Starting out he befriended other struggling young artists including Jean Michel Basquiat, Madonna, Wilhelm Defoe, Tom Waits and Jim Jarmusch. Entertaining a string of girlfriends, he also developed a decades long drug habit that could have easily derailed his true quest. Accidentally becoming an acting phenomenon, his true love was for music. His group the Lounge Lizards which he co-founded with his brother Evan was an interchanging parade of great musicians who were often more difficult to control than a pack of wolves. On worldwide escapades he dealt with unscrupulous promotors, venue dives, and record executives with tin ears. Despite these obstacles he was able to create and compose music that, at times, resulted in his feeling close to God. This memoir is touching, insightful, honest,funny, hard hitting, unrelenting and, at times, philosophical. Reading this unique story one comes away with an affection for the man and artist; a real charmer who has survived his battles and today is a wizened soul who can be viewed on HBOs Painting with John.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Coote

    John Lurie is the worlds most underrated artist. I will never forget this book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Miguel

    There is some major navel gazing going on here and I honestly didn't know that Down By Law conferred so much 'stardom' on Lurie - sounds like he wish he hadn't taken that role and could have focused his energies more on the tens of Lounge Lizard fans and doing H. DNF. There is some major navel gazing going on here and I honestly didn't know that Down By Law conferred so much 'stardom' on Lurie - sounds like he wish he hadn't taken that role and could have focused his energies more on the tens of Lounge Lizard fans and doing H. DNF.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    John Lurie is an incredibly talented person. A phenomenal musician, a wonderful actor, a fascinating painter. If you're starting to feel a little jealous, take some comfort knowing that the man can't write for shit. Just a few pages in, I'm literally laughing out loud at how terrible the prose is. Beyond parody. John Lurie is an incredibly talented person. A phenomenal musician, a wonderful actor, a fascinating painter. If you're starting to feel a little jealous, take some comfort knowing that the man can't write for shit. Just a few pages in, I'm literally laughing out loud at how terrible the prose is. Beyond parody.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Antonio Depietro

    yet another book chronicling the influential punk rock/no wave/ art scene in NYC in the late 70s and early 80s - but this is a new take from a very particular and prickly point of view. John Lurie really is a renaissance man - a painter, and actor, a filmmaker and of course a musician. but man is he a dick or what? The name-dropping, bragging and boasting make this also a bit of a cringe but he definitely was around a lot of amazing art - but his bitterness about his lack of recognition is tough yet another book chronicling the influential punk rock/no wave/ art scene in NYC in the late 70s and early 80s - but this is a new take from a very particular and prickly point of view. John Lurie really is a renaissance man - a painter, and actor, a filmmaker and of course a musician. but man is he a dick or what? The name-dropping, bragging and boasting make this also a bit of a cringe but he definitely was around a lot of amazing art - but his bitterness about his lack of recognition is tough to read. It's honest but maybe he's where he needs to be? A hipster sleazeball.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Scott Hollis

    Take a stroll through 1980s Lower East Side Manhattan, in all its seedy glory. It’s all here: sex, drugs, scams, squalor, art. (Although eventually there is a bit of glamour.) Not many within these pages come across as exactly admirable, and some of Lurie's complaints strike me as slightly ridiculous given the life he gets to lead, but he delivers his tales of late 20th century bohemia in the dry, droll remove of an inveterate hipster, so that they frequently read like non-sequiturs describing s Take a stroll through 1980s Lower East Side Manhattan, in all its seedy glory. It’s all here: sex, drugs, scams, squalor, art. (Although eventually there is a bit of glamour.) Not many within these pages come across as exactly admirable, and some of Lurie's complaints strike me as slightly ridiculous given the life he gets to lead, but he delivers his tales of late 20th century bohemia in the dry, droll remove of an inveterate hipster, so that they frequently read like non-sequiturs describing someone else’s life (less so in the latter sections of the book.) This is not a complaint. In fact, the book is enormously entertaining and frequently laugh-out-loud funny. Recommended. Three and a half stars.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Han

    I've never been so sad a book was over. I listened to the audiobook, which the author performs himself. Usually, when I listen to audiobooks, I speed them up. My brain reads at about 1.75 times the pace of the average audiobook narrator. John Lurie is not the average audiobook narrator. "The History of Bones" is a wild, drug-fueled ride, full of beautifully human moments and painfully human moments. Lurie's a gifted storyteller, and I bet it's wonderful to sit near a beach bonfire and listen to h I've never been so sad a book was over. I listened to the audiobook, which the author performs himself. Usually, when I listen to audiobooks, I speed them up. My brain reads at about 1.75 times the pace of the average audiobook narrator. John Lurie is not the average audiobook narrator. "The History of Bones" is a wild, drug-fueled ride, full of beautifully human moments and painfully human moments. Lurie's a gifted storyteller, and I bet it's wonderful to sit near a beach bonfire and listen to him pontificate. Anyway. Some memoirs are lists of the author's famous friends. This is not that. This is more a meditation on the nature of fame, and the nature of humanity, and the nature of addiction, and the nature of music. It looks at how people connect with one another, and in that sense it's more than a memoir. After listening to the part of this book where Lurie describes the production of the Lounge Lizards album "Queen of All Ears," I decided I had to go back and listen to it. Driving down a rolling Iowa highway, surrounded by corn and other Wisconsin drivers desperate to make it home after a long weekend of Big Ten football, I got brain tingles like you wouldn't believe. Who needs drugs to make your brain feel good when Lounge Lizards music exists? I had the surreal experience of listening to Lurie's recounting of the production of "The Last Temptation of Christ," and then going home to pop in a movie I'd checked out from the library for totally unrelated reasons (the movie was "Wild at Heart," a David Lynch flick I'd never seen, but was interested in because Alex de la Iglesia made a sequel to it called "Perdita Durango" and I wanted to watch "Perdita Durango" so I figured I should watch "Wild at Heart" first) and then, while watching the movie, realize, oh shit, John Lurie is in this. And then to get in my car to drive to work and hear Lurie discuss making the movie, which I'd had no idea he was in until I watched it hours before. It's a weird life, but a good one. When things are hard, we get stronger, we learn, we grow out of the crucible and become people we would not be otherwise (whether better or worse, who's to say? Who cares, really, since we can never know?). In this book, John Lurie tells you stories, like he would if you were, say, fishing together, or perhaps painting together. He doesn't tell you what the stories mean, and I appreciate that. They mean different things to him than they do to me. That's part of being human.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    This guy is not afraid to talk shit about every person he knows

  14. 5 out of 5

    Alexander

    great book

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kimley

    Tosh and I discuss this on our Book Musik podcast. Lurie is a multi-hyphenate talent: musician-composer-actor-painter and now book-writer. Initially making his mark as the bandleader for downtown New York group, The Lounge Lizards, he quickly went on to establish himself as an actor in several films. He created and starred in the enigmatic, must-see TV show Fishing with John and the more recent Painting with John. He’s toured the world, composed several film scores, and has even done some modelin Tosh and I discuss this on our Book Musik podcast. Lurie is a multi-hyphenate talent: musician-composer-actor-painter and now book-writer. Initially making his mark as the bandleader for downtown New York group, The Lounge Lizards, he quickly went on to establish himself as an actor in several films. He created and starred in the enigmatic, must-see TV show Fishing with John and the more recent Painting with John. He’s toured the world, composed several film scores, and has even done some modeling. And all along, he’s also managed to keep up a serious painting practice. Is there anything this man can’t do? Tosh and Kimley have some varying thoughts on this…

  16. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    "We are all flawed. In a way, that is the point of the whole thing, how we are individually, uniquely flawed." I feel like We Are All Flawed would also have been a great title for this memoir. I'm glad John Lurie survived his life; the way it reads, seems like that is a mini miracle. The book reads like a storytelling; weird little vignettes that run you through a gamut of emotion. I scared my cat laughing out loud more than once. But the drug use was so heartbreaking. Then the desire for the mus "We are all flawed. In a way, that is the point of the whole thing, how we are individually, uniquely flawed." I feel like We Are All Flawed would also have been a great title for this memoir. I'm glad John Lurie survived his life; the way it reads, seems like that is a mini miracle. The book reads like a storytelling; weird little vignettes that run you through a gamut of emotion. I scared my cat laughing out loud more than once. But the drug use was so heartbreaking. Then the desire for the music to be able to move the world to be so thoroughly thwarted was almost unbearable. I'm pleased to have the knowledge that John Lurie is still a force in life. And I will forever randomly ask, "What is that? A trout?" God bless Willem Dafoe - oh, wait. Seems God already has. I was lucky enough to win an ARC from Goodreads.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jerry Smith

    3ish I love John. I love his music, his art, his movies and his quirky reality shows. The book starts off great, it's weird and funny and you can hear his voice when reading. The problem (for me anyway) is that it's just too much. Too much sex, drugs, failing, awkward. I think there's also not an overarching thread that holds it together and that hurts the book. Each story is great there's just too many of them in fragments. either shave at least 100 pages or tie it together a bit more. 3ish I love John. I love his music, his art, his movies and his quirky reality shows. The book starts off great, it's weird and funny and you can hear his voice when reading. The problem (for me anyway) is that it's just too much. Too much sex, drugs, failing, awkward. I think there's also not an overarching thread that holds it together and that hurts the book. Each story is great there's just too many of them in fragments. either shave at least 100 pages or tie it together a bit more.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    My thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group - Random House for an advanced copy of this memoir. Artist, musician, composer, actor, model, bon vivant, and amateur fisherman John Lurie has written a memoir encompassing not only his life less ordinary, but of scene and a lifestyle that could only have been New York in the eighties. Starting at his birth in Massachusetts and ending close the end of the century in New York, The History of Bones follows Mr. Lurie from his humble beginnings My thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group - Random House for an advanced copy of this memoir. Artist, musician, composer, actor, model, bon vivant, and amateur fisherman John Lurie has written a memoir encompassing not only his life less ordinary, but of scene and a lifestyle that could only have been New York in the eighties. Starting at his birth in Massachusetts and ending close the end of the century in New York, The History of Bones follows Mr. Lurie from his humble beginnings, his less humbles 20's, into his dangerous 30's as fame and infamy started to come for him. Fame is both a blessing, opportunities, publicity, musical success, and a curse, no money, his band the Lounge Lizards growing to hate him and dissolving, and more opportunities to be taken advantage of. There are women, lots of women, maybe even a true love , but drugs, the outside world and his own actions and psyche usually end it. Sex and drugs, lots of drugs were a big part of his narrative, but the music is the center of the memoir. Mr Lurie's description of his sound, his tone the way the music feels in his body, how it he gets it and performs it are some of the most beautifully written passages in the book. He might not think that much about himself, but of his sound he can't talk enough about it, and know that it has always been there for him. Music is the one love that he has never done wrong. The band might underperform, but he has always tried to make it the best he could. Famous people pass through, some with a kind word, some with an ehh. Others get the full treatment, and there are a lot of those. Some people are mentioned, but not identified, the names strike a cord probably from Interview or Details magazine back in the day, so maybe a few words on who these people are might have helped. That is only a minor quibble in an otherwise enthralling read. A perfect book for a music fan, a fan of New York in a certain era, art fans or just someone in the mood for a good memoir. I would like to know more about Mr. Lurie's adventures.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mark Melara

    I only discovered the extent of John's works in May of this year. And man, as a writer and artist myself, I have been sorely missing out. The brash, take-no-shit attitude that John employed in his career is precisely the kind of model I've needed. Now, to The History of Bones. If you've ever seen Fishing with John, you might have noticed a particular smirk plastered on John's face. You could call it an impish grin maybe. But, something I noticed when reading the book is that suddenly I had this s I only discovered the extent of John's works in May of this year. And man, as a writer and artist myself, I have been sorely missing out. The brash, take-no-shit attitude that John employed in his career is precisely the kind of model I've needed. Now, to The History of Bones. If you've ever seen Fishing with John, you might have noticed a particular smirk plastered on John's face. You could call it an impish grin maybe. But, something I noticed when reading the book is that suddenly I had this smirk. To me, that's a sign of good storytelling, like living vicariously through a great actor's performance. John never insults your intelligence or censors himself - his tales of both triumph and woe are laid bare. Memoirs can have the tendency of sounding like a mea culpa or a defense of one's legacy, but I don't believe that is what John is after in this book. Fairly early, he states the goal of his art, and by extension this book (and his life in a way) is to find and express God, or that which is greater than us. And by the end, I personally felt that. Quite intensely in fact. But something that shouldn't be overlooked is the laugh out loud humor riddled throughout these 448 pages. Perhaps his brand of humor is something I relate to, also having grown up with a brother with whom I shared a secret language. So, when John shares inside jokes like, "The mayor's hair is on fire!" it feels like you're being let into this familial relationship, and who can't love that. If you're like me, and you stand against the Conspiracy to Maintain Mediocrity (as John puts it), then check out this memoir and get a rare glimpse into a type of life that simply can't be lived anymore. It's a wild ride told with sincerity, pathos, and an irreverent spirit that we can never let die out in this world.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Greg

    Fascinating book. It could have been three times longer. Lurie leaves out a lot from his full life. Not that I would know, I didn't have anything to do with it, but there are obvious giant chasms of information missing from the various waypoints of life he chooses to share in the process of relating how badly he was bent over in most aspects of his career. Reading this becomes an exercise in learning to lower your expectations in regard to getting any traditional structure to a story. Repeatedly Fascinating book. It could have been three times longer. Lurie leaves out a lot from his full life. Not that I would know, I didn't have anything to do with it, but there are obvious giant chasms of information missing from the various waypoints of life he chooses to share in the process of relating how badly he was bent over in most aspects of his career. Reading this becomes an exercise in learning to lower your expectations in regard to getting any traditional structure to a story. Repeatedly we get a peek in to wild situations (and even mundane situations) only to be left completely in the air about any reactions or results that could probably fill another chapter. For some that would indicate a far less than five-star reading experience. But anyone who is familiar at all with the art of John Lurie will not be surprised by this. If you are familiar with some of the denizens of and curious about the "scene" he emerged from, this should be an attractive and absorbing read. There are some hard truths told, and at the same time I couldn't help wondering what the views are from the other side of the aisles. Lurie doesn’t put any sugar coating on his life—it’s a warts and all share, and leaves it open to the reader to take what's valuable from his experiences and see what might exist in the negative spaces he leaves. My next viewing of Stranger Than Paradise will have some new perspectives.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ignominia

    Oh man I loved this book! Read it in 7 days could not put it down. Mostly I've known him from the movies he was in in the 80's, I knew of the Lizards but it was not a music I liked then, and it's too bad. He always fascinated me, he looked so cool and contained but his book made me feel as I was being told the backstory about people you know from afar. Lurie tells his stories straight, without sentimentality or unnecessary gloss. You can see his desire to tell the truth, both his and that of tho Oh man I loved this book! Read it in 7 days could not put it down. Mostly I've known him from the movies he was in in the 80's, I knew of the Lizards but it was not a music I liked then, and it's too bad. He always fascinated me, he looked so cool and contained but his book made me feel as I was being told the backstory about people you know from afar. Lurie tells his stories straight, without sentimentality or unnecessary gloss. You can see his desire to tell the truth, both his and that of those around him, he kwetches and whines a bit but is also funny and his mischievousness is obvious. I have a lot of admiration for how he has maintained that childlike playfulness after being screwed over so much. I am sorry his health is so poor now, but still he makes the best of it and Painting with John is a meditation piece I hope he can keep doing for another few seasons. I will try to see Fishing with John again too, as I remember it as very fresh. He is a brilliant artist, a creative dynamo unfortunately underrated. But in a way it is good that he did not have the same success as Basquiat, it may have burned him like it did him. Instead he still has something new to offer even as he ages, he is still fresh and creative and his paintings are very lovely.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jim Jones

    I’m generally not one for movie star memoirs, but John Lurie is much more than an actor. He is one of those 1980’s NY No Wave originals who tried their hands at everything—acting, music, art, and directing, convinced that the amateur could create something as interesting as people who spent their lives perfecting their art. He jokingly called his band The Lounge Lizards “Fake Jazz” (something he later regretted), just as his friend James Chance was making “fake” soul music—half homage/half parod I’m generally not one for movie star memoirs, but John Lurie is much more than an actor. He is one of those 1980’s NY No Wave originals who tried their hands at everything—acting, music, art, and directing, convinced that the amateur could create something as interesting as people who spent their lives perfecting their art. He jokingly called his band The Lounge Lizards “Fake Jazz” (something he later regretted), just as his friend James Chance was making “fake” soul music—half homage/half parody of James Brown. Lurie knew everyone in the scene, and was a star (although usually a broke one), hindered by his addictions to heroin, girls and fame. Here he does not spare himself one bit in this often a laugh-out-loud recollection of the times. He also takes swipes at his “friends” (Jim Jarmasch and Jean-Michael Basquiet really get it) that he resents for their success and for stealing his ideas. I thoroughly enjoyed this book—I guess Lurie can now add amateur author to his list of many accomplishments!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Laurie Antonioli

    If you were ever a bandleader (in jazz), a struggling heroin addict, or a seeker of truth swimming in deep wells of creativity while rubbing shoulders with celebrities and icons, this memoir will feel familiar and even validating. But most people are not those things, so it’s extraordinary that John Lurie can tell these stories with so much appeal. He’s an outsider who invites the whole world to check out his stuff. Pulling back the curtain on the glamor industries and the stark reality of those If you were ever a bandleader (in jazz), a struggling heroin addict, or a seeker of truth swimming in deep wells of creativity while rubbing shoulders with celebrities and icons, this memoir will feel familiar and even validating. But most people are not those things, so it’s extraordinary that John Lurie can tell these stories with so much appeal. He’s an outsider who invites the whole world to check out his stuff. Pulling back the curtain on the glamor industries and the stark reality of those who are almost too sensitive to be on this planet, he reveals his own flaws and those of others while also fighting for beauty and realness, a battle he wins. I enjoyed the audiobook for the same reason I loved “Kitchen Confidential” read by the author; it’s like a great hang with a friend. John continues to make beautiful and real things that make the world a better place. I have even more respect after listening to “History of Bones.” #Fortitude

  24. 5 out of 5

    Emily Hawe

    ''I wanted to find my soul and live in it. All the time." I love this book so much. I love the small-town beginnings. The genuine naivety and madness that comes with innocence and creative spirit. The commitment to keep moving even if you don't know where or why or have any sort of barometer other than your own sense of self. The depiction of living with intense depression. I love that he's humanized his peers by refusing to allow them to be deified. I've always loved Lurie's onscreen performances ''I wanted to find my soul and live in it. All the time." I love this book so much. I love the small-town beginnings. The genuine naivety and madness that comes with innocence and creative spirit. The commitment to keep moving even if you don't know where or why or have any sort of barometer other than your own sense of self. The depiction of living with intense depression. I love that he's humanized his peers by refusing to allow them to be deified. I've always loved Lurie's onscreen performances but when I discovered his music, that was something else. His music is always playing in my mind somewhere. I hope he does an audio version because if you haven't heard him speaking I feel like you'll miss out on his rhythm and absurdity in general. Special mention: the time he tried to shoot a shark with a handgun on 'Fishing with John' whilst Jarmusch tempted it with a slice of cheese. Hahahahaha.

  25. 4 out of 5

    A

    dnf, but 4 stars? It's great, entertaining writing- John Lurie of the Lounge Lizards and Jarmusch, tells story after story of NYC and world hipster travels. Like a guy you once knew who talks non stop and always has such stories and you wonder how much of it is true. With Lurie, i suppose it is all true- i have no reason to doubt it- though it is a bit overwhelming. While loving reading it all- as in a gossipy tell-all, it does frequently read as a self serving whiny complaint on the world for t dnf, but 4 stars? It's great, entertaining writing- John Lurie of the Lounge Lizards and Jarmusch, tells story after story of NYC and world hipster travels. Like a guy you once knew who talks non stop and always has such stories and you wonder how much of it is true. With Lurie, i suppose it is all true- i have no reason to doubt it- though it is a bit overwhelming. While loving reading it all- as in a gossipy tell-all, it does frequently read as a self serving whiny complaint on the world for the most part. No one can appreciate him, no one will pay him, everyone rips him off, it's all so unfair. He is sympathetic and brilliant and i do feel i am always on his side in these constant skirmishes, but geez, buddy - can you just do something without it being a drama contest? Still, what a great story and casual easy style makes one feel that one is hearing it straight from him... as an insider.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    I loved the stories of New York during this era and the personal look into Basquiat’s life and work. I hated the way Lurie talks about women. I also think this book is a perfect example of “everyone is the hero in their own story” bc I’m pretty sure if the others involved in the numerous conflicts he described were interviewed about how things went down, they’d remember things differently. On the page he sounds considerate enough and like a decent communicator, but I get the sense that others wou I loved the stories of New York during this era and the personal look into Basquiat’s life and work. I hated the way Lurie talks about women. I also think this book is a perfect example of “everyone is the hero in their own story” bc I’m pretty sure if the others involved in the numerous conflicts he described were interviewed about how things went down, they’d remember things differently. On the page he sounds considerate enough and like a decent communicator, but I get the sense that others would have very different descriptions of his behavior. Lastly, I kind of wish he’d talked about chronic Lyme and its impacts on his life and work more. That could have really added some depth to this book. Overall, I’m glad I read it, it was an enjoyable meditation on spiritual searching, making art, and being part of a community. Loved seeing 70s-90s NYC through his eyes.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Shannon Hughes

    Many memoirs I've read tell their story through a filtered lens. I imagine it's how we would like the world to see us, from our own view of our life, the first person narrative. What John Lurie does in this powerful portrait of his life, as an artist, as a musician, as a man, a brother, a human on earth, just trying to live a life that is authentic and curious and unapologetic offers an unfiltered , raw expression of his truth and experience.. He is hugely generous, He writes with skill and hear Many memoirs I've read tell their story through a filtered lens. I imagine it's how we would like the world to see us, from our own view of our life, the first person narrative. What John Lurie does in this powerful portrait of his life, as an artist, as a musician, as a man, a brother, a human on earth, just trying to live a life that is authentic and curious and unapologetic offers an unfiltered , raw expression of his truth and experience.. He is hugely generous, He writes with skill and heart. His story is both incredibly heartwarming and funny, even in the dark sordid moments. This is a brave venture, beautifully written, expertly crafted and gives one a visceral experience of the art scene in NYC in the 80's. Get this book.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nina Theda

    i’ve always known john lurie as the artist, the musician, the actor. but what i didn’t realize is he’s also hysterically funny. like tears streaming down your cheeks funny - and one of the greatest storytellers ever. he’s got heart. this book arrived in the mail the day my vacation started. by page two, my sides ached from laughing so hard. and it’s as moving as it is funny. like i said, heart. i found myself intentionally slowing down my reading to draw it out, make it last longer. as much as i i’ve always known john lurie as the artist, the musician, the actor. but what i didn’t realize is he’s also hysterically funny. like tears streaming down your cheeks funny - and one of the greatest storytellers ever. he’s got heart. this book arrived in the mail the day my vacation started. by page two, my sides ached from laughing so hard. and it’s as moving as it is funny. like i said, heart. i found myself intentionally slowing down my reading to draw it out, make it last longer. as much as i was dying to know what was coming next, i also never wanted it to end. it did end, though. i am now listening to the audiobook.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Nonheagan

    Really enjoyed this, but unsure how (or whom) to recommend it. Lurie has had an unusual life--and in some ways that seems inevitable because of his distinctly unusual mind. He gives short shrift to his painting, although a good deal of tortured description of his friendship with Basquiat. Lurie has a tendency to leave angry people in his wake, in part due to impulsivity, in part due to entitlement, and in part due to drug-fueled poor judgment. There are repetitions that feel more like sloppy edi Really enjoyed this, but unsure how (or whom) to recommend it. Lurie has had an unusual life--and in some ways that seems inevitable because of his distinctly unusual mind. He gives short shrift to his painting, although a good deal of tortured description of his friendship with Basquiat. Lurie has a tendency to leave angry people in his wake, in part due to impulsivity, in part due to entitlement, and in part due to drug-fueled poor judgment. There are repetitions that feel more like sloppy editing than deliberate choices and that can become grating. At the same time, I could hardly wait to return to this book during the couple of days that I went through it. Make of that what you will.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    Random pick off the DPL new release shelf. Truthfully, I really only knew John Lurie from the Fishing with John shows and a smattering of Lounge Lizards songs. This memoir filled in the blanks, from his work with (and loathing of?) Jim Jarmusch, friendship with Basquiat, film work, and of course, the music. He jumped from topic to topic, sometimes within the same sentence, yet for some reason it always worked. The memoir ends in the late 80's/early 90's, but maybe that makes sense considering th Random pick off the DPL new release shelf. Truthfully, I really only knew John Lurie from the Fishing with John shows and a smattering of Lounge Lizards songs. This memoir filled in the blanks, from his work with (and loathing of?) Jim Jarmusch, friendship with Basquiat, film work, and of course, the music. He jumped from topic to topic, sometimes within the same sentence, yet for some reason it always worked. The memoir ends in the late 80's/early 90's, but maybe that makes sense considering that he's been battling Lyme disease for quite a while. Lurie could be more than a little egotistical (often), but his story was an interesting one.

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