Not every reader has the endurance for "Life", Keith Richards's new memoir, with its nearly 600 pages of semi-smug recollections of drug-addled days, unenviable sex and occasional sparks of music genius. In his somewhat grudging review in the New Yorker, David Remnick coughs up some bemused respect for the man and the book, calling it "a slurry romp through the life of a man who knew every pleasure, denied himself nothing, and never paid the price." He seems almost miffed by the fact that Mr Richards is not only not dead, but living "like a private-equity pirate". (Writing for the New York Times Book Review, Liz Phair duly called Mr Richards "a global avatar of wish fulfillment for over four decades".)
Still, the best review I've read so far was tossed off by Dan Nadel, a small publisher, writing for the Paris Review's blog:
Usually with these kinds of books, there’s some kind of arc to it, some realization or redemption after all the action. Not here. It’s mostly unremitting destruction: of himself, of the people around him, of his talent. It is, as Keith might say, a fucking bummer, man. At least Richards doesn’t really pretend there is romance there. But the level of unself-consciousness reaches staggering levels. What Richards leaves out (apologies, regrets, sadness) is as telling as what he leaves in (blow jobs, heroin, death). Then again, the descriptions of music-making are top notch and moving, in the sense that if you believe him, you believe this beast sometimes finds grace in open-tuned guitars and groovy chord sequences. But he’s a beast nonetheless.
A beast indeed. What this book misses in self-awareness it gains in candour—blistering, odd and entertaining. It isn't entirely clear why Mr Richards has written it (or, rather, supplied the free-form interview material for James Fox to write it himself). But who would've thought he'd be around to share these stories anyway?