I didn’t get as much done this week as I would have liked because a book arrived in the mail and the whole world had to stop so I could read it.
Now you must understand, the book was Lorelei Shellist’s book Runway RunAway. Ms Shellist was engaged to Steve Clark of Def Leppard. As a fan of the band, I vividly remember hearing the news of his death in 1991 and thinking, ‘how the hell does that even happen? Wasn’t anybody paying attention?’ Three out of four of my grandparents were alcoholics and I can literally walk to (the founder of AA) Bill T’s house, so I’m not unfamiliar with the disease, but I have still spent the intervening years wondering. Not continuously you understand, but now and again it would come up. I mean seriously, all the members of Motley Crue are still alive and they were working with much worse odds.
So when I spotted the book months ago (oddly, I went looking for it right about the time it was published) I resisted ordering because it felt ghoulish. Instead I started reading every other rock bio I could get my hands on. I justify this by saying that I’m writing another book about (Rock Star’s Retreat) Jason’s band. I figured out how Bear met Maureen. When I’d run out of stuff I was interested in I found myself going back to the Runway Runaway site. Again and again and again.
So I ordered the book and every day for a week and a half (even Sundays) I looked west and said some variation of, “where’s my book, Lorelei?” The day it arrived, I pretty much ripped it open and sat down to read feeling ghoulish.
That stopped fast.
There is far more to this book than the chance to rubberneck at an accident. Lorelei Shellist has led a really interesting life. A top model in the 80’s, she traveled the world. If you looked at a fashion magazine during her reign, you probably know her face. Her tales of the road were oddly familiar and rang true to what I’ve experienced overseas. The way she writes is also engaging. She has a real gift for metaphor. The honest and clear way she lays out what could be a diatribe is wonderful. At the back of the book, and you have to look for it, she says that everyone did the best they could at the time. Kinda shocked me because there were parts of the book where I was thinking, OMG, how could he/she/they do that? Can’t he/she/they see what’s going on?
Which brings me to the part of the book that bothered me. As I was reading along I agreed with everything she did. I would have, in her position, done exactly the same thing. Up until the last time Steve called and asked her to come right way and she said no. At that point I was thinking, ‘are you kidding? Go. Go now. He needs you.’
Yep, I’m totally an enabler. I am, in fact, a bigger enabler than her. Sucks when you see yourself in a book.
There were a few writing type things that bothered me too, but honestly they were incidental. The fact that she liked to write out the accent. Here and there is okay, but she did more than I liked. There were also a couple of places where the narrative got murky, but there are places in my own books where the narrative gets murky and I’m not trying to remember something that happened twenty years ago.
Even if you aren’t a fan of Def Leppard, this book is priceless. As a story of addiction and self awareness it is one of the very best. As a record of the late 70’s and the 80’s it is fantastic. It’s a peek into a world that few experienced and fewer remember.