Man vs Bookshelf

Man vs Bookshelf: Whatever You Say I Am

This entry is part 48 of 104 in the series Man vs Bookshelf

I’d like to welcome ya’ll to the Eminem blog.

But first, some self-pity.

I’ve spoken positvely since I returned from holiday two months ago. Things have been going well. My motivation has been sky high and I’ve been soaring through projects.

In writing, there was the completion of the next draft of my next novel. Followed by some words it turns out I’m never going to use.

In reading I was firing through books – two or three a week despite my other commitments.

But, as we know, all good things must end.

My motivation has gone nowhere. I’m still working hard. Putting in the hours before work, during, and after. But it’s become more difficult. I’ve moved onto the next draft of my latest novel. Which involves me reading and hand re-writing 77 scenes. After that, rewriting and reworking it as a computer draft.

The target was to finish this in a month. Yeah, right. I wanted to do eleven scenes a day. Then it turned out it took me about an hour a scene and now I’m lucky if I get through three. An amount which will lead me into the next month, and push me off my release target.

Then there’s the reading. I’m still knocking through the pages. That’s not the problem. Problem is the blogs. In keeping up with my novel writing I’m not penning so much online content.

That means, while I’m now writing this Eminem blog, I’ve four more books ready for blogging after it.

That’s a lot of writing, and I’m reading more and more. I spoke about this a little while ago but the situation is getting worse. I keep pushing the to-do items back and back and it’s becoming too much.

The World Cup doesn’t help. Here I’m taking time out not only to watch England but all the other exciting teams as well. Tomorrow is Friday and I’m going to the zoo, so won’t get much done then. Saturday the Round of Sixteen starts and that’s pushing me well off. Need a big day Sunday but there’s every chance I’ll be hungover. If I’m hungover I’ll never get anything done and then I’m fucked…

Note. As I tidy up this blog it is now Sunday and, good news, I’m hungover. Still, the next paragraph applies.

I’m stressed. Struggling to break my targets yet I plough on. It’s important. To scale back is to admit defeat.

In the end, we always fail to hit our targets. That’s human nature (shut up, it is). If you reduce the targets you aren’t hitting, you’re only hurting yourself. Giving yourself the excuse to further reduce your productivity.

So I’ll keep my targets where they are, and fail to hit them while trying as hard as I can not to fail.

Well, I have reduced some of my targets actually, but don’t worry, I’ve still made the new ones unhittable.

But for now, let’s get on to talking about Eminem.

Eminem and Me

I’ve put on Eminem to write this.

Not that I need an excuse. I’ve long been a fan.

I can’t remember exactly when I got into him but I was still at school, in my teens. It was a time when buying music off iTunes was still a thing.

I had become aware of the song Just Lose It. I went on to buy it and found Eminem’s greatest hits. I considered buying the whole album but wasn’t sure. 79p for a track was one thing, but a tenner for the whole lot…

I did what we all did before Youtube and Spotify were massive. Before they made listening to songs so easy.

I listened to samples of every song on the album. Little thirty-second clips of each to decide whether to buy the album.

Impressed, I clicked buy.

I’ve never looked back.

Since then, Eminem has gone on to become my favourite artist. Well, joint top with Busted. I know all the words to too many of his tracks. I listen to at least one Eminem song almost every day. I’ve even seen him live – twice – both times headlining at Reading Festival. First in 2013 and again last year in 2017.

So I’m a big fan, and as such I’m interested in the man behind the music. I’ve seen 8 Mile (to a greater or lesser degree based on Eminem’s life, depending on who you believe). I’ve seen lots of his interviews and, some years ago, I bought his biography – Whatever You Say I Am, by Anthony Bozza.

Whatever You Say I Am

At least I thought it was a biography – but we’ll come to that.

I bought Whatever You Say I Am a long time ago. I know that because it’s still got the price sticker on (£4) and it’s an HMV sticker.

That’s right HMV. The store where you can buy actual hard copy music and DVDs.

Like they haven’t even heard of the internet. Haven’t heard of Spotify and Netflix. Haven’t heard of Amazon.

So we’re talking a clear decade ago, at a guess. Another book bought, first few pages read, and chucked on my shelf. Dormant and forgotten until now. Until Man vs Bookshelf.

Not a biography

Despite ten years of ignoring Whatever You Say I am, I was quite excited to read it now.

I like biographies, and there are few people I’m more interested in reading about the life of than Eminem. Starting at the beginning and running all the way through to whenever the book was published. Hang on. I’ll check.

2003 – 15 years ago now.

That would have been a bit frustrating. A lot has happened with Eminem in the last 15 years. Still, it would have been okay to read about those early days of Eminem’s career. That’s what excited me.

Only, it wasn’t a biography. Bozza took us through snapshots of Eminem’s life, but all very specific. There were long passages of anecdotes – Eminem at his trailer, Eminem in a show, Eminem at the diner he used to work in. Interesting stories, but small stories. Stories that didn’t add much to the Eminem narrative.

Beyond these anecdotes were conversations about Eminem’s impact on American culture. On his home city. Detroit.

This I wasn’t so interested in. I had come looking for a biography and that wasn’t what this was.

To be fair to Anthony, he said early on it wasn’t a biography but, by that point, it was too late. The blurb should inform us what we’ve picked up. What we’re about to devote time to reading.

Except, this book had no blurb. I only had the front cover to go by.

“Whatever you say I am – the life and times of Eminem.”

Yeah right.


So I can’t say much about this book. It wasn’t what I was looking for. The sketch of late 90s, early 2000s America and Detroit was not what I wanted. The anecdotes about Eminem were interesting, but not enough.

I didn’t take much in. I skimmed. I know, cardinal sin. But when the book isn’t what you want, it’s hard not to.

So I’d say if you’re looking for an Eminem biography look elsewhere.

Next Time

Next up is a book about another one of my great passions.

The greatest computer game of all time.

That’s right, the book is – Football Manager Stole My Life.

See you then.

Series Navigation<< Man vs Bookshelf: StoryMan vs Bookshelf: Football Manager Stole My Life >>
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International worst-selling author Mark Ayre has been writing since before he could pick up a pen (somehow). An author of mystery and suspense novels including the James Perry Series of mysteries.

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