Usually when I fly anywhere I like to read a bit of trash on the plane. Concentrating goes by the wayside with the rumble of the engines and the constant jet stream of dry, slightly metallic smelling, recycled air coming out of the air conditioning system. I’ve always wanted to sit there and look ever so effete reading Milan Kundera or Gabriel García Márquez, looking down my nose and smiling condescendingly at people who read such things as Life With My Sister Madonna by Christopher Ciccone.
But that’s exactly what I was doing.
This book is a very easy read. It’s a memoir, so is written in the first person stream of consciousness. No difficult concepts here. Just a tell all expose on what it is like to live and work for one of the largest pop icons in the world today. I have to say, I’m not a big fan of the writing in this biography … it’s a little flat in style, and at times is reduced to gossip of, “Ohh, and guess who I met next?” I guess what Ciccone is trying to achieve is a sense of wonder and absurdity of what it’s like being in his sister’s personal sphere. Yet at times it doesn’t hit that mark.
This is truth from one man’s perspective about getting caught up in fame and fortune, and what it is like being the brother of Madonna. He portrays her as someone who constructs every word, every action for the media and ultimately her own purpose, with little regard at times for the personal implications that her decisions genuinely affect. He tells us she can be cold and calculating, and sometimes quite genuine and warm.
As Ciccone pours out his heart about this constructed world that Madonna lives in, where the idea of truth only comes through her perspective, I can’t help but wonder how much of this biography/expose is actually true and how much of it is constructed. As self deprecating as he is at times, you can’t help but realise that in this book he wants to come out on top, to let us know the “real” truth about Madonna. There are some truly bizarre situations that he endures in his sister’s shadow – Madonna’s uncaring outing of him for public gain, her wedding to filmmaker Guy Ritchie amongst them. Ciccone makes no bones about his dislike for both of Madonna’s husbands.
For Madonna fans this book will more than likely only enhance their love for their idol, giving them another perspective to see her from. For others it will only confirm what they already perceive about a bossy uncompromising superstar. Is it the truth? Who knows. People will take away from the book what they want to believe.
As previously stated in my post on her music, I’ve been a fan of hers for sometime. And this book certainly won’t sway my feelings about here either way, because I don’t personally know the woman. All I know is her music and her film career. Madonna was once a trend setter and a pioneer, but of late the relevance of her latest work seems to be fading. All good things …. perhaps?
All I know is when I dropped my book and it slid to the seat behind me as the plane took off, I had to ask the rather dapper french man if he could pass it back to me. As he picked up the book he too a long hard look at the cover, then looked at me with what I can’t help but think was a bemused if not somewhat condescending smirk. Merde!