cover image The History of Bones: A Memoir

The History of Bones: A Memoir

John Lurie. Random House, $28 (448p) ISBN 978-0-399-59297-3

The star of the indie film classic Stranger Than Paradise and the New York jazz and multigenre band the Lounge Lizards recaps his life up to 1990 in this bawdy memoir. His loose-limbed narrative meanders along as he recounts hitchhiking around the country in his teens; immersing himself in bohemian New York in the 1980s as a saxophonist, artist, and filmmaker; winning fame with the Lizards and Paradise, but later struggling to advance his creative agenda in a philistine entertainment industry; and riding a merry-go-round of heroin and cocaine binges. There’s plenty of rancor and score-settling—he accuses Paradise director Jim Jarmusch of stealing his ideas, and compares artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and his “ice-cold stare” to Ugandan dictator Idi Amin—but the harshest judgments are of the “shameful and terrible person” Lurie often found himself to be. By turns comic, pissed off, and desolate, his raffish picaresque captures everything from showbiz highs—“It’s impressive how energetically one can play when standing naked in front of a crowd”—to malaise from living on the road (“I had a couple of White Castle hamburgers. A little white dog came out of the rat’s alley, vomited, and then keeled over and died”). The result is an energetic, raucous reprise of an adventurously offbeat life. Agent: Jonas Herbsman, Shukat Arrow Hafer Weber & Herbsman. (Aug.)