I'm an absolute sucker for Mikel Jollett (who happens to have created one of my favorite songs of all time - Sometime Before Midnight); to me, he is one of those people who is just talented at everything and can do no wrong. That being said, even objectively, this is a stand-out memoir.
Jollett does a wonderful job at telling his story- recounting the events of his upbringing without shying away from raw emotion. Hollywood Park is largely centered around Jollett's father, as he works through his grief of losing him, and is surprisingly uplifting in its message of love and hope. Despite the challenging material, his writing is gorgeous and poetic, bringing an overall quality of softness to the book.
I'm struggling to write a review that encompasses just how beautiful this memoir is. I first read the book in its entirety then listened to the audiobook read by Mikel himself and featuring music from the companion album (by the same title) he released with his band, The Airborne Toxic Event. Jollett details growing up and his F-A-M-I-L-Y in such a raw, emotional way; it's gut wrenching, heart breaking, and utterly touching. Jollett's story is one of significant challenges and yet he still manages to create gorgeous prose that easily connects with the reader. The earlier chapters are written from the perspective of his childhood, often swapping more mature concepts for childlike vocabulary (ie Deep Russian when describing his mother's struggle with mental illness), giving the memoir a unique tone and voice right off the bat. Memoirs can be hit or miss for me and Jollett employs a lot of techniques to ensure his is successful- callbacks to memories previously expressed in the book, strong sensory descriptions, and unwavering honesty. He allows the story to come full circle and gives the reader a sense of closure and growth. Unlike many other memoirs that rely heavily on the readers interest in the particular author, Hollywood Park is a great read whether you are already a fan of Jollett or not. I've been recommending it relentlessly to everyone I know and don't plan on stopping any time soon.