Forest Wickman of Slate reports for NY1 on newly released book titles and the world of publishing in "The Book Reader."
Two artists look back on their careers in show business in new memoirs this spring.
The director of such classic thrillers as "The Exorcist" and "The French Connection", William Friedkin reveals his own exploits in his autobiography, "The Friedkin Connection", out from Harper Collins.
Even in print, Friedkin still knows how to thrill. The book opens with the nail-biting story of how he used his own first film to try to free a man from the electric chair. Just a few pages later, he's already moved on to carrying his camera into a lions' den, having a cigarette shot out of his mouth at 50 paces, and racing at 500 miles an hour down the Bonneville Salt Flats.
The book is also good, of course, for those interested in the process of filmmaking. Friedkin knows how to fend off producers as well as he does lions, and when he can't get his actors to deliver, he slaps them in the face.
As the title suggests, "Mo' Meta Blues", from Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, out in June from Grand Central Publishing, takes a more self-conscious approach to memoir writing.
Questlove, who has worked with everyone from Amy Winehouse to D'Angelo to Dave Chappelle, is best known as the drummer for The Roots. He believes in collaboration - he proudly describes The Roots as the last hip-hop band standing - and he applies this same belief in collaboration to the memoir. Everyone from co-author Ben Greenman of The New Yorker to "Captain" Kirk Douglas, The Roots' guitarist, is invited to jump in and correct him whenever he goes astray.
It's a nifty device, but the book is most engaging when it just lets Quest take over. In these sections, he reveals everything from the most influential moment in hip-hop history - he argues convincingly that it’s an episode of The Cosby Show - to what it's like to go rollerskating with Prince.
For more reviews of the latest books, check out the Slate Book Review at slate.com/books.