The Long Hard Road Out Of Hell
How exactly does a 29-year-old whose accomplishments are limited mainly to scaring self-righteous people and dancing about in scary-clown makeup come up with enough material for an autobiography? Well, if you're Marilyn Manson, your solution is to fill the tome in question with more filler than a Falco box set. In fact, almost a quarter of The Long Hard Road Out Of Hell's 269 pages is devoted to pictures, lists, interviews, affidavits, journals, and short stories. In between the lists and the pretty pictures, Manson and New York Times critic/ghostwriter Neil Strauss tell the story of Manson's life, charting his evolution from a heavy-metal-loving, socially ostracized white-trash teenager living in constant fear of his abusive father into a wealthy, powerful, controversial rock star beloved by legions of lemming-like fans and demonized by the religious right as a satanic pied piper. Well, perhaps evolution is the wrong word, as throughout the book, Manson shows little sign of spiritual or intellectual growth: He endures abuse, betrayal, drug addiction, and physical and emotional torment without ever really growing or changing at all. Which is why the first half of Long Hard Road, detailing Manson's childhood and predictably painful adolescence, is far more readable than the portion devoted to Manson's stardom. While his account of his pre-fame days has a certain plain-spoken, Southern Gothic charm, the chapters detailing Manson The Rock Star's battles with the religious right, record labels, and his bandmates all blur together into one long, misanthropic orgy of self-hatred, drug addiction, and unbearable egotism. Those looking for Manson's insight into the artistic process will also come away disappointed: Judging from the book, Manson seems to view his music primarily as a good way to meet porn stars, use lots of drugs, and have people pay attention to him. Manson closes by asserting that his cultural reign is only beginning, but if this sad trifle is any indication, his time in the spotlight may be just about over.