Friday, August 08, 2014

Beyond music

book review

Author: Nick Carter
Book: Facing the Music and Living to Talk About It

If you want to seek advice for your physical, emotional, and/or spiritual health and are inclined to do so by reading a book, then you can choose tomes that come from a variety of sources, including books written by renowned psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists. But would you consider taking guidance from a Backstreet Boy?

If you want to, then now you actually can, and Nick Carter certainly seems to think you should, seeing how he has written a book for this very purpose.

A memoir and self-help hybrid, Facing the Music and Living to Talk About It aims to dispense advice while weaving accounts of the singer’s own struggles into the narrative. Written in the memory of his sister Leslie, whose death from an overdose in 2012 acted as the catalyst for this project, the book offers the basic concepts, tips, and observations that have helped the singer overcome his problems and change his life for the better. The result is a hodgepodge of information that seems well intentioned but is not nearly as well structured and impactful as it could and should have been.

Facing the Music sees Nick talk openly about his mistakes, failures, and setbacks – including “the tabloid reports of my arrest for DUI, the crash and burn interviews I’ve given about my “night of the zombies,” my family’s disastrous reality show House of Carters, and the life-threatening heart problems I’ve developed due to my hard-partying lifestyle” – in the hopes that his readers can avoid the same pitfalls that he plunged into. The turmoil and drama that has surrounded his family comes up multiple times in the book. The singer talks about his relationship with Leslie, Aaron, and his other siblings; the downside of acting as the “fixer and financier for [his] family”; and his feelings towards his parents and their “drinking and fighting and lack of nurturing”, which is a topic that is repeatedly discussed throughout the text. Family isn’t the only subject of his problems though – he also mentions his dealings and disappointments with former Backstreet Boys impresario Lou Pearlman “who’d been taking a double helping of our earnings”, and his brief relationship with Paris Hilton and how she was “probably the worst person in the world for me to hook up with at the time.” And he also opens up about his battle with addiction (and has a particularly severe warning about Ecstasy, a drug that, he says, can “destroy your brain and ruin your life”).

Counterpoising the negative associations and experiences in his life is his bond with the other members of the Backstreet Boys, who have provided the positive influence that he has often needed, and his fiancée (now wife) Lauren Kitt, with whom he says he shares a healthy, loving relationship.

All these biographical accounts and details are interspersed with advice on how to improve your life while the writer explains how these tips helped him overcome his troubles. Nick mentions the importance of self awareness, changing your filter, seeking professional help instead of self-medicating, generating happiness from the inside out, building a life around your talents, choosing what sort of people you want to attract in your life, the importance of setting goals, the power of forgiveness and gratitude, and various other titbits based on the “sound advice and guidance I’ve picked up from professionals who really know how to help people like me overcome our toughest challenges”.

Facing the Music is not intended as a proper autobiography, and if you pick it up hoping to read Nick Carter’s life story, then you are bound to be disappointed. But by being partly autobiographical and partly motivational, the book ends up reading like a jumble of personal details and helpful suggestions with no proper structure. The content isn’t presented as clearly as it should have been, which makes it hard to absorb the information. And there is often too much repetition; his feelings towards his dysfunctional family in particular come up multiple times. The thoughts presented here are in desperate need of some organisation and arrangement, and the book could have definitely benefited from a more thorough edit.

Still, it is good to see that the singer has turned his life around, and you can’t really knock him for wanting to help people who want to improve their lives and for hoping that readers “can find some inspiration and motivation from [his] story”. The problem with Facing the Music is that it suffers because of its execution. Its semi-autobiographical, semi-self-help approach leaves much to be desired on both accounts. Ultimately it just comes off as a collection of scattered thoughts that, with a little more effort, could have been shaped into something more interesting and useful.

- Sameen Amer

Us Magazine, The News - 8th August, 2014 *

No comments: