cover image A Perfect Union of Contrary Things

A Perfect Union of Contrary Things

Sarah Jensen, with Maynard James Keenan. Backbeat, $29.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4950-2442-9

Keenan, the lead singer and songwriter for the Grammy-winning alternative metal group Tool, labels himself a “world class multitasker” in his e-mail signature, and first-time author Jensen details all of Keenan’s various enterprises—leader of musical side projects A Perfect Circle and Puscifer; owner and winemaker of the Caduceus Cellars winery; aspiring actor and comedian—in this entertaining biography, which also serves as a glimpse into one of the more important and influential bands of the 1990s. Sure to please Tool’s many fans, Jensen’s look at Keenan’s development as an individual and an artist is comprehensive, covering Keenan’s Midwestern youth and his time serving in the Army (which supported his subsequent time in art school), his life in Boston working in a pet store, and his move to Los Angeles in the late 1980s, where, along with bands such as Rage Against the Machine, Tool helped redefine the sound of metal (“The primal scream was the key to making it sound sincere”) and carefully developed a radical stage show. Jensen is excellent at describing how Keenan used “a lyricist’s talent for conflating the visual and the aural to create a provocative synesthesia.” And she gets Keenan to step out from behind his carefully crafted persona to look back on his life and career and admit that “most of it was dumb luck and trust. You step over the edge into darkness. The bliss finds you.” [em](Nov.) [/em]