BOOK REVIEWS: No Sense of the Person Who Is Michael Stipe; Michael Stipe, the Biography by Rob Jovanovic, Portrait, Pounds 16.99

The Birmingham Post (England), October 21, 2006 | Go to article overview
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BOOK REVIEWS: No Sense of the Person Who Is Michael Stipe; Michael Stipe, the Biography by Rob Jovanovic, Portrait, Pounds 16.99


Byline: Reviewed by Hyder Jawad

Michael Stipe is, to use Winston Churchill's quote about Russia, "a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma" - and the world of popular music is richer for it.

Stipe is from Georgia, USA, that bastion of right-wing politics, yet he spent much of autumn 2004 trying to bring down George W Bush. Stipe is left wing' Stipe is a vegetarian' Stipe is an environmentalist' Stipe is a pacifist' Stipe is bisexual.

Much of what Stipe is and does is open to interpretation but, whatever one's personal taste, it is now a truth universally acknowledged that he is, musically and lyrically, a genius.

He does not like to be called the leading singer of REM - he is, he says, just one member of the band - but there is no doubt that he is their talisman.

He is vocally prominent on REM's biggest hits, Everybody Hurts (1992), Man On The Moon (1992), and Shiny Happy People (1990), and yet the lyrics could stand alone as works of poetry.

Books about Stipe and REM abound. Not all are good.

In Michael Stipe: The Biography, Rob Jovanovic rightly portrays his subject as a complex, paradoxical character.

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BOOK REVIEWS: No Sense of the Person Who Is Michael Stipe; Michael Stipe, the Biography by Rob Jovanovic, Portrait, Pounds 16.99
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