I read everything with Hilton Als’s name on it lol. He’s one of my favs ever. He edited this book and wrote the introduction, which is really thoughtful. Als is interested in Eminem’s relationship to his mother, the racial division he grew up around in Detroit, and his cultural position as a sort of American stereotype. The rest of the book follows as a collection of pieces of journalism on Eminem from 2000-2003ish. It’s a bunch of writers loving and hating and critiquing his music and his movie in different ways at the height of his fame.
One of my favorite pieces was “The Kids are Alright” by Hank Stuever. It’s about him listening to music in teenagers’ bedrooms, which is totally offhanded and like weird as a concept, but it allows for an intimate voice from the teenagers that is just so raw and perfect. They’re telling him which songs they love at the moment and what they listen to when they’re sad and who else at their school has good music (he goes to that person’s house the next day). Stuever doesn’t necessarily “get” Eminem, but he appreciates the passion kids have for him.
Best line is from Hilton Als: “His ‘rage,’ is that of the disillusioned romantic. Mathers can’t quite believe the world is the world. Nor can he believe there’s not enough love in it–especially for him. He writes with the hyperrealistic vividness of the romantic who can recall every slight, real or imagined.”
-Rachel Wagner 2020