What’s It About?
‘Moonwalk’ is Michael Jackson’s only autobiography. It details his performance career from childhood up until the book was written (1983-1988) in his own words.
It will probably surprise most people to learn that I have only just read this book, considering how big of a Michael Jackson fan I am. But seeing how I was mostly obsessed with him at High School, when this book was very difficult to get hold of, it isn’t actually that strange.
The first thing to point out is that this autobiography was first published in 1988 and so the bulk of it is about his childhood and his first two albums he produced as a solo singer (‘Off the Wall’ and ‘Thriller’). This obviously means it missed out about half his life which I have to admit I was disappointed by, but there’s not a lot you can do about that.
At least half the book is dedicated to the experiences of being part of ‘The Jackson 5’ and ‘The Jacksons’. While I found it interesting to see what events Michael Jackson left out of his childhood, I didn’t find any stories which I didn’t already know. Of course, this would probably be different for someone who has never been that big of a fan. Personally I felt that the writing was dry and was very much a ‘this happened, then this happened’ kind of telling. This was my main issue with the book, as I like autobiographies for the emotional connection that is usually created between reader and writer. In a way, it kind of felt like listening to what a child might say, with the occasional words or phrases that they’ve heard from other people, rather than made up themselves, thrown in. While I understand that perhaps this is actually Michael Jackson’s style, it did become a bit boring and monotonous.
The latter part of the book is all about music (and a little bit about dance). I found it quite boring to read how the recording of each of the songs added to the feel (in his opinion) of the two albums ‘Off the Wall’ and ‘Thriller’. While there were a few interesting titbits about how the ideas of songs came about, mostly it was literally a breaking-down of the beats of each song. As I am not a musician I have to say that this was irritating, and in fact more so as I know each song and album produced inside out – reading the singer’s point of view hasn’t added anything to my experiences as a listener.
Obviously for any Michael Jackson diehard fan, this is a must read (though I assume that most, if not all of these fans, have already read it). But for everyone else I would only suggest reading it if you are interested to know step-by-step how Michael Jackson started in the music business; from with his family to as an independent artist. It would probably be a good read for musicians of ‘pop’, but if you are just after a biography of Michael Jackson’s life, I would recommend reading ‘Michael Jackson: The Magic and The Madness’ by Randy J. Taraborrelli, rather than ‘Moonwalk’.
Overall rating: 3/5