Bruce's Reviews > The Real Frank Zappa Book

The Real Frank Zappa Book by Frank Zappa
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Mar 07, 2008

really liked it
Recommended for: Everyone
Read in February, 2008

Regarding my thoughts on Zappa and his excellent ouerve, see my review of Kelly Fisher Lowe's book.

This autobiography/polemic makes for a zestier read, although the last 50-90 pages of it descend rapidly through stages of acerbic wit from critical observation to rant to diatribe to screed. (You know there's trouble any time a writer begins moving from italics to boldface to BOTH IN ALL CAPS WITH MULTIPLE EXCLAMATION POINTS!!! ) I'm guessing that Zappa lost interest in self-censoring (or the project) after 250 or so pages. No matter. It's otherwise funny and always thought-provoking.

My favorite insight? Frank Zappa managed to be as productive as he was by routinely staying up all hours of the night and sleeping during the day. (He apparently undertook a constantly circulating schedule of 8-10 hour sleep periods and 14-16-hour waking periods, irrespective of whether these were day or night.) There's a price, of course. Zappa's schedule requires:

(1) A spouse who can and is willing to manage all of your business and household affairs, so you can focus on your art and writings.
(2) Enjoyment of, at best, sporadic contact with your wife and children (depending on the period of your sleep/wake cycle).
(3) Being relegated to eating peanut butter straight from the jar if no other prepared food is ready to hand (Zappa had four kids who ate up whatever they had during the day and neither he nor his wife cooked or cared to invest the time needed to prepare a decent meal).
(4) Being considered completely antisocial, if not outright misanthropic (biographer Barry Miles' conclusion, but note that Zappa cites the classic introvertism of fearing conversation with others as extremely hard work).
(5) Accepting that your self-imposed isolation may reinforce already extreme thought-processes.

All in all, a marvelous companion to his music.
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