What's better than when one of your favorite musicians/singers/artists for half of your life writes a memoir? Not much. Jack Grisham, the singer for legendary punk band T.S.O.L. (True Sounds of Liberty), The Joykiller, Tender Fury and Cathedral of Tears has had quite an interesting past. I've read more than my fair share about stories, legends, rumors and surely many lies about him and was glad to finally hear the truth from the man himself. I was lucky enough to meet Mr. Grisham back on August 4th 2001 when T.S.O.L. reunited after a long hiatus and came to play at the Met Cafe in Providence, RI. He was gracious, appreciative and kind - everything you wouldn't expect from a punk legend. I first heard of T.S.O.L. when I found an old Thrasher compilation (Blazing Wheels and Barking Trucks - Thrasher's Skaterock Vol. II) which had two songs by the band on it. It wasn't until many years later, when I finally found a copy of the Return of the Living Dead soundtrack (one of the greatest soundtracks of all time), which had another T.S.O.L. track on it. Oddly enough, these songs were all recorded after Grisham had left the band but when I did start buying their records, the stuff with Grisham instantly became my favorite.
Though An American Demon is a memoir, to call it non-fiction wouldn't be completely accurate. Grisham has defended that the terrible, unbelievable and shocking stories in this book are true, it's just the way they are told that is fictional. Grisham presents himself as a demon, a true creature from hell that has an untamable rage and hated for people. Motivated only by self serving actions (stealing, fighting, fucking), this demon uses his powers get what he wants, when he wants and where he wants. He even decides to become a singer as a way to attract a group of followers to carry out his mission of destruction.
The way Grisham tells his story is inventive, compelling and hilarious....in a demented sort of way. Using the guise of one of Satan's servants, he does an incredible job of bringing us into his world of sadism. The best part about the book is that Grisham doesn't use this method to defend his actions, but rather to just tell a story. There are parts that are embarrassing and despicable, but the author should be praised for his honesty. Instead of most autobiographies, where the author tells about his troubles and tries to make excuses ("it was the drugs, man!"), Grisham makes no apologies. Though I would have liked to have read more about Grisham's musical projects (which was apparently in the first draft of the book that he threw out), An American Dream is a book that you won't be able to put down once you start.
http://jackgrisham.com/book/ - signed copies of the book are available here